D1 had a rough time socializing - from about 18 months to 30 months she just didn't know how to interact with kids. She would get so excited to see them, desperately want to interact with them, but not quite know how to do it. She would end up hitting, scratching, pushing, etc. She still has it in her, on her bad days. And as all 3 year olds, it especially comes out during the trials of sharing. I thought with a little sister constantly by her side this wouldn't be an issue, but it is.
I had a really hard time with this stage. I felt like I was doing something wrong, or not doing something enough. I felt like other Mom's were judging me, thinking I was a bad Mom. I'd find myself over-reacting to her aggression when we were in public, just trying to prove to other Moms that I was on top of it, and was trying to control the problem. It wasn't fair to D1 and caused a huge amount of anxiety for me. After a few months of this, I found myself avoiding other Mom's and their kids. I would take D1 to playgrounds during times that I knew others were less likely to be there. I stopped going to activities with my MOM's group.
I was broken hearted over the thought that other Mom's in her playgroup (which we became playgroup drop outs over!) were unable to see my child as she really was. I mean, I knew she was this great, creative, funny lovable kid. But could others see it?
Today was a great day spent at the park with my MOM's club. But I still haven't gotten over the apprehension her prior months of aggression started. Sometimes I feel like I won't be a very good advocate for her, if that is ever needed in school or elsewhere. Each time I would hear a child yell or cry, I would check on D1. Not to see if she was ok, but to see if she was the one causing the tears. If she happened to be standing by the crying child, I would automatically wonder "what did she do". Today was a good day, though. To my knowledge she wasn't the cause of one shed tear.
This subject leads me to a topic that my older brother, lets call him OB (it's the way it should be) is actually kind of obsessed with. He has two kids, ages 10 and 8. While in my opinion, they are both great kids with some awesome characteristics, the 10 year old definitely gives my brother more of a run for his money. He's a handful, while the 8 yr old is more laid back and listens to her parents more readily. OB has seen both signs of the coin, and has come to realize that nature has a TON to do with your child's behavior, it's not all just nurture. His obsession lies in the parents who do not have "challenging" children. Now not all parents of easy going kids think this way, but I'm sure some do - they attribute their children's behaviors to their great parenting, and automatically assume the parents of challenging kids are doing something wrong. OB has seen the knowing glances between these "better" parents and wants to scream "it has nothing to do with you!" But where is the line drawn? Where can you say, "hey, she's like that because I taught her that" and give yourself some credit? Personally, I happen to know that my girls positive traits all come from my fabulous parenting. The bad stuff, on the other hand, totally out of my control. It's just the way they are, right?
Next week D1 starts preschool. I'm so mixed with emotions. Sad, because she is growing up and isn't my little baby anymore. Excited because I'll have a few hours just with D2 each week. Hopeful that she will blossom and just love school and learn so much. But I'm also so scared. Will she make friends? Will the kids like her? Will she get overstressed and become too aggressive? Will she listen to the teacher or just spend all her time in the bathroom smearing the hand soap all over the mirror?
You really , truly can't understand the magnitude of parenthood until your entrenched in it, can you?