last night at dinner, i couldn’t help but notice the family sitting next to me. mum and dad, a little boy (about 3-4) and a baby girl being carried by their maid. the boy already had a smart phone in his hand and was completely distracted by it as his dad attempted to put food into his mouth. sometimes he opened up his mouth to eat, but not once did he stop staring at the phone. then 10 minutes into the meal, the girl (still being carried by the maid) started to make noise. to my complete surprise – and not in any way the good kind – her mum pulled out her smartphone, unlocked it and showed it to her almost crying child. their maid then took the phone and held it out for the baby throughout the remainder of the meal. because the little baby girl couldn’t hold up a phone for herself yet.
i had to fight all my anger and remain seated because parenting is a personal thing and no one has the right to judge anyone else so openly on their parenting skills. but what they were doing was disgusting. that is fact.
i have reached a point in my life where thinking about children and how i intend on raising them has become very real. watching families interact gives me a chance to learn before it is me in that place. and while i do know that all parents will make mistakes, myself included. i feel there’s definitely some things that are black and white. like giving your child the love and attention they need (as opposed to shoving a phone in your baby’s face as she is carried by someone who is not you)
i never really understood how good a job my parents did in raising me. not til the past few years. with them getting divorced and me feeling alone for so long, it was a tough journey letting go and looking past the pain to the really good childhood that i had. and i did have a brilliantly colourful and happy childhood. in fact, if it weren’t for school and peer pressure messing with my head, i think i would have been more than happy to stay at home and spend all my time with my family, the way i love to now.
my parents filled me with love first. and as they loved me unconditionally, that gave me courage to be bold and face the world, stand up for myself, believe in what i believed in. i have always had a platform to voice my opinions and someone to listen to my feelings and concerns – even if it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. they taught me discipline and order which now allows me to have my life organized and myself focused. i am who i am today because they gave me a solid foundation to build myself on, then set me free (and by that i mean really free) to learn the rest on my own.
they also banned me from using my phone during meals ;)
so many people don’t get as much love and freedom as i did – at the same time. my parents have never stopped loving me no matter what i went through finding myself. and now that i have, they are right there to be proud of me.
i thought about it. and that’s really what i want to give my children when i have a family someday. all the love that i can. all my attention and care. and then take a step back as they grow up and let them choose their own path in life. no harsh expectations or judgement because it is my responsibility to create a space in which they can be their true selves. not theirs to live up to what i want them to be.
and when they really test me, i will bite my tongue and then reread these things i have said here to remind myself of what i’ve set out to do. i’m really hoping they don’t turn out as stubborn as i am. although secretly, i kinda already know they will.