Did everybody make their weekly contribution to the "Future Therapy Funds" jar? Good! Then we can proceed!
I think it's normal for people to worry about parenting their kids. Am I doing it right? Will they be better off for having me as a parent? Am I putting him or her as the highest priority? What is GOOD to do, what is RIGHT to do, in this situation or that? If a person doesn't second guess the decisions made while in charge, I feel that the person can't claim to be a decent parent. Nobody's born with these skills. And honestly, no matter how great your parents were to YOU, every child is different and has different needs.
I always make jokes that I have to add an appropriate amount of money to the therapy savings account whenever I do something to or with the kids. Like, for instance, this week I decided that I was a Crap Mom because I forgot to pack up Ari's lunch the other day. It's the second time in three years I've managed to do this. What's the worst case scenario there? Well, the school lets her get food out of the cafeteria and I pay for it later. She gets fed. Still, when Ariana came home and told me she cried because she couldn't find her lunch and felt she must have misplaced it, I slumped. There's another $80 to the therapy fund, I thought.
Today's agitation started this morning. Ariana was reviewing her spelling list on the way to school because they get a spelling test every Friday. She's pulled up her spelling so that she now has straight A's. The quarter ends soon, and all she has to do is get an A on today's spelling test (she did) and next Friday's test and she has the A honor roll. I promised her a special prize if she managed to do so. Why did I do this? My parents NEVER did that. The OTHER kids got special prizes when they had all A's, but WE got a glass of Pepsi (we weren't allowed to have soda, ever, except four times a year if we were on the A or A/B honor roll). Repeatedly I asked my parents: why don't we get a prize for doing well? A nice pat on the back? Something? My parents responded: we have four kids getting fantastic grades. We'd be broke. Blah. I hated that. I know the reward should be "the grade itself," but...well, for little kids in particular, why CAN'T they also have a fun book or toy as a "congrats!" message? Anyway, Ari's drive to get her special prize made her review the words on the way to school. She's in second grade, and they do 10 to 12 words per week for spelling. My son, on the other hand, is in a K-4 program...preschool. They supposedly learn the alphabet instead, but Jared already knows it.
Ok, so there Ari is, rattling off her words and how to spell them, and suddenly, I hear Jared pipe up, "You forgot the N."
Oh shit. He was right.
Gaping like a fish, my mind went nuts. He's four! Most four year olds can't read, but I was three when I read, so why not? But...I didn't know! But...if I realized he was at a really high level of word recognition, I would have worked with him more and read to him more and of course I read to him and Ari reads to him too but oh my god, have I screwed him up by not assuming he was gifted enough to start reading????
No really. These were my paranoid thoughts. So, after I dropped them off at school, I tried to reason with myself that it was a fluke. He was a normal four year old. I had done him no disservice by not working with him like a tennis coach works with a prodigy. Then the doubts crept in...did I neglect his reading skills because Ari was so adept at math that I assumed that he, like her, would not be able to read before 5? I mean, I worked with her a LOT because she loved to read, and it still didn't happen before kindergarten. No, no, no, I reasoned. Jared has high word recognition, sure, but he doesn't know how to spell words. He's not fully ready to read. He's not even in kindergarten. You didn't screw up.
Then I picked up Jared and Ariana from school today. The teacher for his k-4 class RUNS!!! out to my car and opens up the door, babbling at me. "My goodness, you have such a smart child!" she tells me. "They were able to play with beads today and the beads had letters on them! He decided to make me a necklace, and on his own he pulled out Mrs. Jewell from all the letters, threaded it up, and presented it to me! He even got the MRS right!" she beamed. I thanked her, and my heart started going again.
My child. Genius. Stuck with a woman who is so tired from teaching school/Girl Scouts/running this house/counseling students that one story is quite enough at night to read, and we're done. In a stay-at-home parent family (an advantage Ariana got because I didn't start working until she started kindergarten!), he'd already be reading. Then the guilt started in about the failed marriage and how the stay-at-home parent, me, was ripped from him at two and a half years of age. Hell, of course the way my mind was going, I was also thinking...if it weren't for ME being his mother, by now he'd have cured cancer! Damnit!
Paranoia is such a beautiful thing!