Are you a hands-on parent? Are you spending the holidays taking your child to summer camp activities–craft, art, sport, swimming, skating, etc.? Or are you the type who prefers spending time with him or her, creating make believe stories, doing finger painting sessions, building lego cities, together?
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And, do you ever wonder, how much ‘parenting’ is enough? And if you are doing too much ‘parenting’? Well, I do. All the time.
I worry that if my five-year-old spends all his free time with me (especially during these holidays), he and I will no longer enjoy each others’ company. I believe that it is not my job to constantly keep him occupied and entertained. More important, I believe that if we (that is, him and I) have some time away from each other, then both of us get the space and the freedom to be ourselves. Okay, to be totally honest, that applies to me, more than him. Time away from my son is precious for me–it’s an opportunity to just be me, not mother, not older playmate, just me being myself, doing my own thing.
So why am I thinking all this? I have many friends who are wonderful mothers and who are also much more patient and cheerful with their children, than I am or ever will be. And one of them, let’s call her A, told me she is enjoying the holidays and loving the time with her son. “Things are so much more relaxed nowadays. I don’t enjoy school time, I think my son’s diet and health takes a toss then. He hardly eats because during school time, everything is such a rush. And I hate that,” she explained. No surprises for guessing that A has not put her son in any summer camp. Me, I enrolled my chap into a locally-run summer camp, as soon as school closed for the holidays!
A is a wonderful person, and loves interacting with children. But she thinks children who are four, five and six-years-old, should not be doing too much work at school. In fact, her husband (let’s call him B) concurs. They feel children in kindergarten should be at play always, not doing writing, learning numbers, or anything that qualifies as ‘work’.
They could not be more different from my husband and I. We think children need to be engaged, involved and challenged. And I for one, love school. I love the fact that my little fellow learns new letters, spelling, reading, numbers so on and so forth. So at home too, I (and my husband) get him to read by himself, do writing and so on. If we don’t make the effort, we will be doing him a disfavour–how will he cope with the heavy school work that is the norm in the upper classes? He will be totally unprepared.
Well, coming back to children and play, I have other friends who spend a lot of time taking their children to art, craft and sport camps (not summer camps) on a regular, weekly basis. I admire the energy and zeal with which they do this. And I am astounded at the amount of time they spend in these kind of activities. Because I simply cannot imagine myself running from art class to swimming class for my child. I’d much rather have him go play downstairs with my building security guard’s son. In fact, the two boys (the guard’s son is nearly four-years-old) play wild, loud and noisy games, every day. They run around madly, laugh their heads off at silly jokes, do cycle races and, occasionally fall out, fight and bawl at the top of their voices. But they are supremely happy in each others’ company. There are basic rules the two have to follow, they cannot run out on to the road, for instance. And the security guard should be around, all the time. But I don’t go supervise their play–instead I curl up with a book but keep a ear out for sudden silences. If the boys are playing noisily, all is well; if they are quiet, then something is definitely up. That’s when I go check on them. Else, I let them be.
So you see, I am a full-time parent, but I certainly don’t want to do full-time parenting. What about you?