Qual è il più grande errore che noi (genitori) facciamo con i nostri figli? Ecco una bellissima lettera che una mamma ci manda dal "nostro futuro" per parlare del suo passato che non tornerà mai più. Meno male che in questa riedizione di "Ritorno al futuro" il suo passato è il nostro presente! Quindi siamo ancora in tempo per “vivere” i nostri figli. L'ora per agire è ora.
"All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief.
I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets, and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now.
Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education have all grown obsolete. Along with 'Goodnight Moon' and 'Where the Wild Things Are', they are battered, spotted, well-used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages the dust would rise like memories.
What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relatives - what they taught me was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.
Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then it becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay.
No one knows anything.
One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can only be managed with a stern voice and a time-out. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.
When my first child was born parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of the research on SIDS. To a new parent this ever-shifting uncertainty is terrifying - then soothing.
Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.
I remember 15 years ago pouring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development in which he describes three different sort of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane?
Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.
Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Shame.
The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language - mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98% on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?". I did not allow them to watch The Simpsons for the first two seasons.
What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this.
I did not live in the moment enough.
This is particularly clear now that the moment in gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, what we talked about, how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed, and I was often tense, matter-of-fact, and over the top.
And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the whole world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts.
It just took me awhile to figure out who the experts were."