Since becoming a parent, the thing that annoys and frustrates me the most is judgement from other parents. You know the kind. You make an innocent enough comment about something your child, or you as a parent, is doing/not doing and then comes the onslaught. It can be as little as a face of shock, pity or ‘concern’ or as large as the full-tilt monologue usually starting with ‘what we found/did’ usually ending with the sentiment that their child is a genius and they are a perfect parent.
I wish I was exaggerating. But sadly I’ve come across it a fair few times, despite actively avoiding the type of conversations where this type of caper goes on.
Lately, it’s centred upon Jarvis’s walking – or more accurately, his lack of walking. It’s become more of a topic of conversation now he’s hit the ‘magic’ age of 12 months, and though the enquiries are starting to wear a bit thin most people’s comments don’t really offend me and are merely conversational.
However, there is a small segment of people that seem to think it’s a huge concern and take every opportunity to go on and on about it. Questioning what I do with him to ‘support walking’ while relaying tales of how their child was up an walking by 10 months with a self-congratulatory tone, like their skills as a parent had anything to do with it.
My new response to this is to smile and nod, while picturing stapling things to their heads.
Most days I’m not concerned about his lack of walking. He only started commando-crawling at 10 1/2 months and is only now (as of yesterday) starting to crawl on his knees with his bum up. I know that he’ll get there.
So probably what annoys me most is that these comments of concern plant a seed of worry in my head that doesn’t need to be there, that I then have to actively dig out by reminding myself that he is fine, he will walk. They rub on that little scar inside of me, that is slowly healing. Where I stow away my worry and concern about my boy and what he was born with. That thing I can’t change.
When they question his ‘weakness’ with walking, and use that word, it takes on a whole other meaning for me. It’s a reminder of his other ‘weakness’ and it feels like a thumb on a bruise in my chest. But they will never know this, so caught up with facilitating every milestone and deciding it’s a parents fault that their child isn’t meeting a guideline. Until of course, their ‘perfect child’ experiences any sort of delay themselves.
But with a weakness comes strength. Knowing that the right side of boy’s face will never move as his left has freed me of worrying endlessly about other milestones. His uniqueness saves me from playing the comparison game. I relish every moment and every giggle as he pulls himself around the floor commando style and forget about all the ‘shoulds’. Seems there is already enough people worrying about that for me.