Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mad Props to Henry David Thoreau

Never in my life have I attempted to "keep up with the Joneses". I have always done my own thing and not much cared if everyone else was doing it or if it was cool or if it was *ahem* appropriate. Since having a child and becoming a mother, things have changed and I feel that I am constantly being nudged into "keeping up with the Joneses" when faced with various parenting choices. While the major options are long past scrutiny (vaccinations, circumcision, breast feeding, and the like), there are these new hurdles that have arisen as Dante has gotten older.

The first came with potty training. I come from the notion that when you child is ready to potty train, they will potty train. There were moms around me who started training their children at 2 years old which was astounding to me. Dante wasn't interested in training at 2, and I didn't push him. The last thing I wanted was some sort of freak child who was scared of the toilet and who would grow up having strange scatological fetishes. That's all I'd need. I have slowly come to accept that Dante is already going to be screwed up on some level as his mother has pink hair, tattoos, piercings, and listens to Duran Duran like its cool, but I certainly don't want to compound that by instilling him with some gross poop fetish and toilet phobia. I can see it now, the year is 2026 and my son is on Jerry-atric Springer in a diaper being beat up by some 400 pound pink haired, tattooed dominatrix named "Mommy". Yea, don't tell me you can't picture it.

Anyhow, regardless of whether or not he was ready or I was ready to start potty training him, there was always the underlying push from the environment to start him. To keep up with the mommies around me, because, in my insecure brain, I felt like I was doing something wrong if I didn't throw him on a toilet and hound him until he was blue in the face. But I didn't. I stuck to my proverbial guns and went with the flow. Consequently, as Dante turned 3 and became more independent, he decided when he wanted to stop going to the bathroom in his pants and he told me when he wanted to use the toilet. It just happened out of the blue. Dante said "I have to go to the potty", we went, and that was that. Despite a few accidents here and there, he did it on his own and now just goes to the bathroom like a champ. No pushing, no coaxing, no begging or pleading. He was ready and he did it.

The next hurdle we've had to face is the school enrollment hurdle. It seems that the new trend is to start your child in school at 6 months old. I'm not even kidding. There are schools here in the area (and I am sure everywhere else) that enroll fetuses. You're pregnant? Great, enroll your embryo into our potty training classes and start taking away their pacifier. I'm not even joking. Isn't it our jobs as parents to teach our children? I mean, I can understand sending your child to school when they are 5 for Kindergarten because that's when their journey begins, but now I am faced with being one of the only mommies with a 3 year old who is not in school. And once again, I am being faced with "keeping up with the Joneses". My insecure brain starts chiming in with "Am I doing something wrong?", "Should I put Dante in school"? , "Is he going to be behind if he doesn't go to pre-pre-pre-K and learn about colors from a stranger instead of his mother?". These are all things that go through my head when I take Dante to the park and he's the oldest kid there and I am confronted by the Momazons asking me why he isn't in school. I usually say that I am teaching him at home and then get the "Oh you're raising a weird home schooled kid that's going to shoot up a school later on in life" look.

I don't want to put Dante in school yet. He's 3 years old for Christmas sake. We do just fine learning on our own. He's socialized, he's intelligent, he's engaging, he's curious and inquisitive. At this rate, I am not even sure if he is even going to go to school around here as we are zoned for some pretty horrible public schools and private school is not an option for so many reasons (namely, they are expensive and they are all religious and there's no way that's going to happen).
But I am constantly nagged by my psyche to "keep up with the Joneses", especially since all of Dante's friends his age are scattered around the area, at various schools during the week, and he hardly sees them anymore. Those are the times that my "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality kicks in the most. "Everyone else is doing it, why aren't we?" "Are we weird?"

And then I realize that, well, we are weird. We're always going to be a bit off kilter. Politically, religiously, the books we like, the movies we like, the clothes we like, and how we are raising Dante. It makes "keeping up with the Joneses" that much more difficult and essentially that much more pointless. I always likened myself to Thoreau's quote, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer." I'm going to have to remember that we march to a different orchestra entirely and trust my parenting choices to be good, intelligent, and the best for our awesome kid, and not try so hard to "keep up with the Joneses".

At least this week.


Jack Allen said...

YOU ARE NOT DOING A DISSERVICE TO D MAN BY NOT SENDING HIM TO SCHOOL!!!!! You are his BEST teacher. His is an intelligent boy who is on track. PLEASE do not beat yourself up. I'm SOOOOO tired of people trying to be fake and keep up with everyone else!!! Be happy with who, what, where you are. Love the quote... going to add it to my facebook page:) Love you guys!!!

Beth Dounane said...

You need to continue doing what you think is right for your son. The only person who has the right to judge you and your choices is yourself. If your son is thriving, well adjusted and happy you must be doing something right- actually a whole lot right.

Diana said...

You make me the proudest mother and grandmother EVER! Just can't figure out who you got your skills from (must have been YOUR grandmother)!

Anonymous said...

He'll probably end up with a much better education from you than he will from the schools around here. One of my coworkers was recently bitching that her kindergartner has just been learning to color and "scissor" at school (after he'd been at a nearby school learning to read the year before).

TNT666 said...

A recent childhood learning study I heard about on CBC radio found that kids who learned to read too early actually hamper their future learningn skills!!!
Something to do with the fact that the normal learning area of the brain has not yet completed myelenation, therefore early reading is occuring in a different section of the brain, which maxes out. Since the kids have learned to read with the wrong section of the brain, their future learning abilities are compromised!!!

You have done well woman!

coralsemail said...

Definitely just do your own thing. Dekker's only in school because I have to work. If I didn't, he'd be home with me learning instead. He's still in the same in-home day care he's been at since he was 8-months-old--almost 3 years now--so I feel that's as good as having me around. It's just him and one other child. So it's small and more personable; more like being at home with mom. And since he's been there so long, I'm sure he and Chandra (his caregiver) have formed a close relationship that is as close to being family without actually being family.

You're a very intelligent woman, Alessia. You and I are the type of people that, our whole lives, have done what we wanted to do regardless of what the majority does and we're just fine. Dante's learning, he's smart, and there's nothing they're going to teach him in school that he can't learn from you. Another good quote to go by would be "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"!

Alessia said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I really appreciate them (and I love that people are reading my blog!)

jennifer elaine said...

Make sure that your child is not constipated. This is the most important in getting started. Children’s are afraid of the toilet and the whole process of getting in a cold wet small room. If you are not an expert in knowing about the constipation, get them to a doctor when you see signs of them not eating well or change of mood. Increase the amount of fluid and fiber in their daily diet. Water plays an import role in helping your child staying healthy and helping to digest easily. Give lots of water and encourage with praise when they drink. Fiber enriched food for kids include; Barley, Navy Beans, Baked Beans, Split Peas, Oat Bran, Raspberries, Green Peas, Prunes, Spinach, Broccoli, Raisins, Mixed Vegetables, Strawberries, Carrots, Potatoes, Corn, Rice, Apples, Oranges, Celery.

Read children's story books about potty training to your child. There are lots of books available for you get online on potty training. Reading and imagination helps the child to relate to the interesting characters and behaviors within the story and helps them follow accordingly. Offer lots of praise when your child does make some progress. It is not an easy practice but this will help you see results amazingly when you really put in the effort to make your child proud of their achievement. Avoid physical punishment for not using the potty. Stop all reminders about using the toilet. Replace the reminders with the potty training stories you’ve read to your child. This helps as their mind recalls the story and how will keep it in mind when its time.