Mister Man starting up preschool had me thinking. Yeah, I know that’s a bad idea, but it’s what happens sometimes. Things are really different from when I was growing up.
Mister Man has been receiving various therapies — speech, occupational and physical — since he was 17 months old. I was lucky enough to have friends who were able to lead me in the right direction when I felt there wasn’t something quite right about Mister Man.
My mom had no such interventions. She talks about how many things are so similar between Mister Man and I, and that frequently makes it hard for her to understand why he’s in a special needs school and I turned out “just fine.” Apparently I probably had low core strength as a child, which led to delays in gross and fine motor development like being able to cut and write properly. You should see my handwriting now, as I never learned to do it properly. And don’t ask me to use a pair of standard scissors. My mom blamed it on being left handed, but “we know better now.”
On the plus side, we moved around a lot as a child, following my dad’s jobs as he was promoted or transferred. I rather enjoyed going to new places and meeting new people, but I know my sister didn’t. Married to a math teacher, I know that I’ll never leave the state, as there’s no way he’s giving up his place on the scale or his pension by moving elsewhere.
In fact, while Mister Man has lived in three different homes, we moved to our current house when he was still two. His only memories will be here, and he’ll have friends that he went to kindergarten with. I always envied my friends who knew others from infancy practically. My oldest friends are from eighth grade. I wonder how much of an impact on me that’s had.
At the same time, we rarely lived near family. We visited frequently, and they visited us. We’d even vacation with my grandparents. I had good relationships with them all and loved them, of course.
With my parents, my wee ones have a very different relationship. They live fifteen minutes from us, and they frequently do childcare for us — at their insistence. There are times when I wonder if they love my parents more than they do my husband and I. The “grandparent rules” are all well and good when you see them sometimes. I am concerned about the impact of having these rules in play so frequently, but I wouldn’t trade their relationship with my parents for anything.
By the time I was four and almost five, I remember heading over to friends’ houses by myself to play. And coming back in time for dinner. Mister Man still naps frequently, and so many children are so scheduled that it’s hard to have the unscheduled playtimes, let alone the trust to allow them to go on their own without knowing exactly what they’re doing.
At least we have sidewalks in our neighborhood, something I learned from my childhood. We never had them, and there were definitely times I was concerned for my safety while walking. Plus, there’s far less excuse to cut across neighbors’ lawns this way!
I’m a younger mom than my mom was, ironically enough, but in many ways I know more than she did. I’ve read more than her and consulted more experts. She raised my sister and I as best she could, and we’re both contributing members of society.
I can only hope that my children grow up with the same measure of love and safety and respect and happiness that my sister and I did. As long as they grow up happy and healthy, it doesn’t matter what’s changed over the years. As long as they grow up happy and healthy, I’ve done my job.