When, if ever, is the right age for parents to leave their child in the care of others, is a question that keeps coming to me often these days, since we started sending the BB to the care centre. I have a million doubts about, whether I am doing the right thing or not? The GP is much more determined on this front, and is sure that we need to let him be, for him to grow and learn. I do agree about the growing and learning bit, but, I still am not sure.
Anyone who has been reading me, is sure to know that I am quite a paranoid mother. I work hard at keeping it in check, but sometimes it gets to me. After we shifted to this place, the BB has finally had the opportunity to spend time regularly with kids of his age, at the playgroup, the care centre, the park. And I am very happy about it, what concerns me though, are the things he ends up learning at times. The BB has, so far never been an aggressive or violent child. No, he is no angel, and can quite scream and cry his heart out when things don't go his way, and be a complete brat when it so pleases him, but he is not aggressive in his attitude or behaviour with other kids. Correction, was not. Overnight, it seems, he has learnt to push, shove and horror of horrors, grab the throat. I have seen the kids at the centre, push and hit each other, playfully, when I go to drop the BB there, and I was a little concerned about it, but to see him pick it up so soon, I really don't know what to do. It is quite mortifying as a parent, to know, that a child, we think we are bringing up well, go and push or shove another child. And yet, I realise after a lot of thinking, that it is all a part of his learning curve, possibly, time for his first lesson in selective learning, from what he sees around him.
He needs to spend time with children his age, to facilitate a normal social development, and when I let that happen, I cannot control what he learns from there. And we cannot hand pick the kids he spends his time with, just as we cannot hand pick the people we work, go to school or move around with. The important thing is know what to learn and what to leave out from what we see all around ourselves. Brings me back to my original thinking, that we can only impart, or rather try to impart the right values and principles to our children, and hope they use it well, because they will eventually leave the nest someday. But isn't three a age too young to impart values, and expect them to stick to them all the time. And hence I wonder, what in fact is the right age to let a child, infact go solo. Had we been in India, I would not have a choice but to send him to school/pre-school by now. And it would not necessarily be a place of my choice! Coming back to learning things that are not-so-good, I am again divided on what to teach him here. I have started consistently repeating that he needs to be nice to his friends, not hurt them, share his things and such, but what also worries me is, that what should he do, if it is being done to him? I have had doubts about this earlier and still do. Possibly teaching him, never to be the first one to do it, or do it to kids who are not bothering him are the first step, but I wonder how often would a child remember what his mother told him at home, when he is out there with other kids playing. I do understand it is a part of growing up, possibly the first instance in his life, where he will learn the importance of selecting what he absorbs. And yet, he seems to be too young for it all.
Over the past few years, I have come to realise parenting is the biggest test in self-doubt. We end up second guessing ourselves at every step. Was this the right way to go or not, should I be doing things this way or another and the list is endless. At the end of the day, what really matters is that we try our best to impart the right values, or in the least, help the child develop his own value system. And I guess every trying step now, is just a way of reaching that ultimate goal. And there is no doubt that he is also learning nice things being with other kids, and that can never be discounted, just because of a few things learnt, which we don't quite like.
The BB is still at an age, where I can hug and hold him, and soothe away all his troubles. I cannot even express in words, the immense satisfaction it gives me, as a parent, but I also wonder about the times, when this will not be enough. I love being able to make his crying stop, the pain go away, the anger melt, by holding him close. And yet I already see things starting to change, where just a mumma-hug is no longer enough. How hard would it be to see my own child in pain and not being able to make it go away with just a cuddle, and some soft words in a few years from now? I just don't ever ever want to let go of this little mumma-magic I possess, that is so effective till now. And I know it will kill a little bit of me, when it stops working or when it stops being enough!