It was the teacher-parent meeting for 1st trimester yesterday. My husband and I were early. We stopped by coffee shop, brought two ginger man cookies to the teachers. The two classroom teachers met with us for half an hour and discuss our daughter, who just started this new school three months ago.
I was a little anxious, not about her achievement level and academic performance, but whether or not she had gotten along with her classmates and made any friends. The lead teacher started the conversation by showing us the Egyptian themed project the class had been working on and the specific part my daughter contributed to. The associate teacher who started playing the apprenticeship role this year were also eager to share. The teachers showed great energy and their passion about education and the children, clearly. Good.
After talking a lot about her strength and uniqueness, it seemed the teachers didn’t have any negative feedback to share with us.
My husband popped up the question, “do you see any areas that she might be lagging behind?”
“Left behind?” the lead teacher frowned and elaborated the philosophy of the school in believing that every child is unique and has their own strength, weakness and development pace.
I laughed and explained that by “lagging behind”, actually we didn’t mean academic performance. We would like to know more about how about her relationship the teachers and other children — whether or not socially emotionally she is on par with where her age should be.
Right, we think our daughter is an angel, therefore it’s difficult for us to objectively tell whether or not our child is considerate, empathetic enough to other people, and able to cope with environment well.
The teachers smiled and gave us feedback, but didn’t answer the question directly. When they were talking, my mind was floating away a bit and thinking about why I even had this question.
Do I have confidence in my child? I want her to be empathetic and contributing good citizen. Good wish as a parent, so why I am anxious? Maybe the real concern is whether or not she will be accepted by the society now and eventually. I admire her so much for her uniqueness, creativity, and every little bit of her “weirdness”. But sometimes, I could be worried whether her “weirdness” would create unexpected and unnecessary roadblocks in her life journey.
I want her to be herself, her unique self. Yet I can’t help to think about if “just blending in with the mainstream” would be an easier path.
This isn’t my anxiousness about my daughter. It’s actually for myself.
Am I brave enough to accept my daughter as just who she is? Even when she bites her nails in public? When she doesn’t pull off the perfectly neat ponytail for her recital? When she laugh out loud and drops an entire ice cream cone on her pants? When she doesn’t demonstrate the best table manner in friends’ house and makes me feel lose face? When she is not the most popular girl and perfect student in her class? When she is a bit nerdy and sometimes contributes “weird comments” (in fact out of box thoughts) in group discussion and might be laughed at by other kids?
Actually most of above are out of my imagination, as a piece of iceberg of my possible anxiousness every day. In theory, I know most of children are much more mature and better behaved in school, in public and in front of others than they are at home. In fact, I believe my daughter is and will be just fine. A smart, cool and empathetic young lady she is.
Still, I can be worried.
The real question is, do I accept her as who she is, stand with her no matter what happens, back her up whenever I am needed? Do I need her to be accepted by the society so that I feel that I am accepted? Do I need her to become a good child and citizen so that I feel I am a good mom, a successful person?
Am I brave enough to embrace what I have? Do I have the courage to accept myself as just who I am?
The THREE “Helping Characteristics” in Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) is Empathy, Acceptance, and Genuineness. Accepting our child is deeply rooted in the acceptance of ourselves. It is also the foundation of genuineness and true empathy.
This is why I like learning and sharing P.E.T. and other parenting skills. Parenting is always about making myself a better person every day.