I went to pick up my Little Miss from Daycare on Friday and her usual Teacher must have gone home. As I scanned the playground for her, another Teacher, who I’d seen before but never actually met, came up to me to talk about how LM’s day had been. A bad sign. When a Teacher approaches you, you know you’re about to sign an incident report. What came out of this Teachers mouth knocked the wind out of me for days.
“Your little Princess slapped a child across the face today. I hope she isn’t going to behave like that when she is moved into my room.”
Suzi – “oh no, I thought we were past this aggression? Is there an incident report I have to sign?”
“Does she see her Father?”
Suzi – Looking a bit dumbfounded. “Yes. He comes up as often as he can but currently lives in Sydney. Soon he’ll be up permanently.”
“Children need the love of both parents, this is why she is like this. Her development is suffering.”
Fuck. Me. Did that just happen? I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there like a twat with my mouth hanging open. Unsure whether to burst into tears or punch her in the face. When I came back to reality, I said to her something along the lines of “there’s not much we can do about that right now” and I slowly backed away. In a trance, I walked out of the school with Little Miss in my arms, hopped in my car and started to cry. LM, not one to miss a thing asked me “Mummy, what’s wrong?” And I put on The Empire Strikes Back (her favourite song, no idea why) and we drove home in silence. I prepared her tea, like I always do. She spoke to her Dad on the phone, like she always does. She went to bed, like she always does. But something wasn’t how it always was for me. For the first time in her short little life, I felt like I had failed her.
There are plenty of studies on the pros and cons of children raised by single parents and duel parent families. Yes, it’s better Children are raised in a duel parent family. When the two parents don’t hate each other. Growing up in a toxic environment does nothing to provide decent examples on how men and women in relationships should treat each other. A hostile, resentful and bitter environment is not something I wanted for LM, and if I were to ask, her Dad wouldn’t want that for her either. We have a better and more even keeled relationship now as parents apart than we ever did together and it pains me to imagine the look on his face if I were to tell him what happened. This isn’t how he envisaged parenthood and if I can spare him those thoughtless words, I will, because I’m under no illusion how difficult it must be to spend so much time away from your child, due to circumstances that are beyond his control.
And then I look at LM. This tiny fire cracker of a human being. I find myself saying this a lot, but I don’t know what normal is when it comes to kids. I’ve never spent any time with kids before, never had any younger siblings (Uncle Leeman doesn’t count, 6 minutes isn’t younger). The only experience I have is with LM. But the more she develops the more people tell me she’s different. I see other 3 year olds hide behind their mothers’ leg when meeting a stranger. Not my kid. She’s front and center asking you what you’re doing. At the grocery store the other day whilst in the trolley, she was close enough to touch the stranger putting her food on the conveyor belt. “Excuse me…” she said as she taps said stranger on the shoulder… “What’s your name? What are you doing here?” I see 3 year olds hold back a little in a crowd of other kids, sussing out who might be friendly or which toy they can have. Not my kid. She’s walking through that crowd, elbowing people out of the way, wanting to see what everyone is looking at. I see 3 year olds holding their mum and dads hand while they walk through the park. Not my kid. She’s escaped my grip and is yelling at and chasing the pigeons. I see 3 year olds cling to their parents at school drop off. Not my kid. By the time I turn around to close the door she is gone, running at full speed. I see 3 year olds hang off their parents, so many kisses and cuddles. Not my kid. Don’t get in her personal space unless she’s asking for it. But gosh it makes the times where she wants a quiet cuddle all the more special. I promise you this. You will NEVER meet a more confident and independent 3 year old.
She wants to do everything, see everything, smell everything, eat everything, touch everything, be everywhere all at the same time. She processes things so fast she physically can’t get words out to convey how she feels. What’s the fastest way to convey anger without saying anything? Slap. So, before you stand there and exercise your right to voice your opinion, know this. More than one child care professional has reaffirmed there is nothing wrong with her development. This is not a collective failure by her parents, who only ever strive to provide her with a loving and accepting environment. My child is loved. By me. By her Dad, by her grandparents and by all who come across her. Yep, she has a quick temper like her Dad, just not quite experienced enough to manage it and just like her Mum, she doesn’t have time for your shit, so shut the fuck up.