Sunday, 3 October 2010

Week 10: Competitive Mummies

Perhaps Blog is short for Back log? Sorry for the delay... but here it finally is!

Winners and Losers
Moving to Oxfordshire after living in Aberdeen for five years was a very strange experience. Men here use product in their hair, not all women have a strangely orange tanned complexion, and I have never heard a mother call her child ‘Shania’ down here. The whole approach to life is very different. Raising a child in Oxfordshire scares me somewhat though… let me explain.

I know everyone has their worries about whether they will be a good parent, whether they will be able to love their child enough, whether they will be too firm or too relaxed, whether they will know what to do with a little helpless being entrusted to them. I’m not worried about all that. I’m worried about my incorrigible and quite terrifying competitive streak.

It’s the kind of streak which gets me into trouble; on a Ryanair flight, I am the one who, despite reminding myself that there is a seat for everyone, will trample old people, wimpy looking business men and, yes, even pregnant women to get my pick of the seats; in a Monopoly game, it’s not the winning that counts but the crushing of my opponents; and don’t even get me started on what it takes to bag a bargain at the Next Sale.

How am I going to curb this ugly monster when it comes to my daughter? I have to admit, I think I would rather spend an hour in the company of a group (pack?) of trainspotters than I would some of the more competitive mothers I’ve come across. Anyone who thinks that a good way to get to know you is to grill you about whether your child can do all the stuff theirs can at the age of 5 months is probably not going to be a good friend: Them: Little Jimmy is rolling over AND sitting up… What is Little CK doing? Me: Erm…. Lying around on her back… Them: Oh.

The upshot of this is that I have to rush home and start rolling her around the floor and making her sit up, which generally results in a falling on the face incident.

So the good news is that thus far, I haven’t engaged in the competition, in fact I am the opposite. When faced with a braggy mummy my response is to do my daughter down. Them: My little Jemima is just so beautiful. Me: I’m not convinced that little CK doesn’t look like a little pig. Them: My little Bobby can pull himself up to standing – is CK doing that yet? Me: Nah -with those thighs she ain’t ever gonna be mobile.

I would imagine that if I was living anywhere else there would be different things to compete over; how much she cried when having her ears pierced; whether she enjoyed her first cheeseburger; if she has sheared her first sheep yet. But here I am in the land of Baby College, then, surrounded by mummies who are already thinking about whether to send their child to private school, and posting their report from nusery on Facebook (no joke!). I’ll just content myself with the hope that one day, she will roll over, despite her thighs.

The Mummatron

The Long Run
I don’t believe in competition, I mean, I know it exists and that some people think it is a good thing, but I think it leads to conformity and ultimately to dissatisfaction if not outright war.

Having said all that, in a rather haughty manner, why did I find it so upsetting when other peoples’ babies could: sit up, smile, laugh, recognise a picture of a cow AND make a mooing sound, whilst my own progeny lay cooing and smiling inanely and trying to gum the rag book?

I remember furiously trying to make my first baby mew like the cat in the picture and bark like the dog, things which would be embarrassing in any child older than three but it seemed terribly important after I had seen a friends’ child, of the same vintage as mine, doing these clever things.

When other mothers assumed a rather pitying look and asked how old he was I used to give his age in weeks until he was about two so that he would seem younger than he really was and therefore it would be forgiven that he was not already reading text books for the Open University, (in which, of course, he would have been enrolled to start his course in advanced mathematics at the age of eighteen months.)

As my little one grew and progressed at his own sunny rate, the competition shifted to behaviour and manners and I found to my delight that my babe was streaks ahead of many of his peers when it came to charm and pleases and thank yous. I began to get smug, to believe that I may yet gain a place at the head of the mummy race. Then came the day when several visiting children got into a positively feral scrap over a toy in my lounge. I was very aware that my son had not joined in the bad behaviour but was playing quietly behind the settee and the sin of pride settled on my shoulders like a cape of victory! Once we had sorted out the fracas and dealt with the bites, scratches and clumps of pulled out hair, I peeped casually over the back of the settee to see what my perfect son was doing. Oops! He was busy with his toy cars but next to him on the seat of the rocking horse was a freshly laid poo!

That was the moment when I realised that there is no competition between children, they will learn and progress at their own speed and nothing competitive mummies can do will change that. As the years go by and our children gain characters of their own it is the difference we celebrate – little Johnny can ride his bike without training wheels but he cannot stop picking his nose – little Jane can knit her own yoghurt but still wets the bed – and as for little Adolf,, well, the less said the better!

Once your child is old enough to decide for itself whether or not it will take drugs, smoke, or participate in under age drinking, or, please no, sex, it is important that they are not trying to compete with their peers but are happy to stand alone, different, confident in their own ability to be the kind of person they know their parents will be proud of.

Granny Bloggings

No comments:

Post a Comment

Like it? Wanna read more? Ah go on go on go on...