So I’ll admit it.
I don’t like small children.
If you’re upset by that, don’t read the next bit…
I simply cannot stand babies!
There, I’ve said it.
I’ve often thought about why this is and the best I can come up with is that I’m the youngest child.
Bear with me, I’ve thought this through.
Each of my brothers and sisters were forced to put up with a crying, crapping usurper in their house, my poor eldest brother had to put up with three of them. So they got used to the crying and the crapping, some of them changed nappies, they all had to take care of a younger sibling. As the youngest, I never had to do that. I never had to learn to be patient with a tiny human, I was never forced to put my needs aside and care for a helpless baby. As a result, I admit, I have a selfish streak in me.
And this streak allowed me to decide, at a young age, that I didn’t want to waste my life in the pursuit of a crying, crapping usurper. I decided, and some of you might need a sit down after hearing this;
I never wanted to be a mother.
There, I’ve said that too.
I made a conscious decision to give up being a mother, in return for the freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted. Once that was decided, I was no longer bound into the cycle of;
Find a mate,
Find a mate,
Find a mate,
Can’t find a good one,
Ok, you’ll do.
So I set off into the world, hoping to see as much of it as I could.
So, for some of my niece’s and nephew’s early lives, I was a ghost, an elusive creature only heard about in stories and seen in photographs. They mostly grew up with a vague recollection of this colourful person bending over them, but crucially, not actually touching them.
Some of them lived abroad, so they saw me more than others, but I was never fully in their lives. I simply turned up with suitcases of chocolate, spent a few, fun-filled weeks and jetted off before it became too real!
I do not regret this. I repeat,
I DO NOT REGRET THIS!
Because instead of trying to communicate with a small child who can’t properly communicate. I was off gallivanting, experiencing life.
All kinds of life. Good and bad. The amazing stuff and the crappy stuff.
I know the brilliant things life can bring, if you are open to all of life’s possibilities and I know how life can really f*ck you up, if you’re doing stupid shit.
I know how easy things can get out of hand and you find yourself in the worst possible part of a coastal French city, with someone you don’t really know, with the sinking realisation that decisions you have made that night could get you killed.
ahh the stupidity of youth 🙂
But that’s a story for another time…
Parents seem to think that becoming a parent makes you uniquely qualified to deal with parenting issues. I would like to counter that being a parent sometimes provides a barrier to effective parenting.
And before you parents get your knickers and pants in a twist, let me clarify.
I’m not saying that you are not good parents.
I’m saying that you are not effective parents.
A subtle, but important difference.
This is not because you are rubbish and don’t care, it’s usually because you are good and care too much. You are too invested, because you love your children. I love my nieces and nephews, but sorry guys, as much as I do love and care for you all, if it came down to my life or yours, I’d have to stop and think about it. I probably wouldn’t go flinging myself in front of a bullet, I have a selfish streak, remember!
A parent would, in a heartbeat.
A parent wants to make the right choices. They want the child to make the right choices. Ultimately they want the best FOR the child/young person. An Auntie wants the best OF the child/young person and takes pleasure in handing the child back, when they get too annoying, screamy or filthy.
An Auntie has all the time in the world to listen to all the grievances of an unreasonable, petulant Teenager. They don’t have to live with it.
They can provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, because they’re not involved and to be honest, they don’t really give a shit about the day-to-day nonsense that consumes a parent’s life.
Aunties and uncles provide a very useful service. Especially those who do not have children of their own. They provide the one thing that parents cannot.
They are able to take a step back and see the whole picture. Often, they are party to both sides and are able to evaluate an argument fairly, because they are that one step removed and are, on the whole, emotionally detached.
For the child, especially a teenager, they are something very important…
they are NOT the parent.
They are someone with whom you can talk about stuff you could never tell your parents.
Parents, please understand they are not trying to commandeer your position of parent, trust me, they don’t want it.
Many many times in my life, I have had enough knowledge to broker peace within a warring household. I have had the full rundown of complaints and demands from both sides. The parent and the teenager. Usually, peace could be achieved very simply, but I have been unable to act…
Because, what would I know? I don’t have kids and therefore anything I have to say on the matter is null and void.
So parents, if you are sitting with your brother or sister, talking about your child and they make that face –
Ok maybe not that face, heeheehee.
Maybe something like this.
You know, the look that says,
“I have somethin to say, but ima gonna hold it in, cos this fool won’t listen.”
Ask them to give it to you straight. And just listen, I mean, really listen.
WITHOUT BEING OFFENDED.
They’re not judging you. They’re not trying to tell you what to do. They’re not suggesting you’re not a good parent.
They may want to simply offer advice. Advice which you can take on board or simply ignore.
They may simply be a peace envoy coming from the Teenage enemy bringing news of a possible peace accord.
Whatever it is,
Hear what they have to say.