You are a mother now: Expectations are futile.

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Maybe I’m a slow learner or just a bit stupid, but you’d think after being a mother for nearly seven years now, I’d KNOW that any expectations I have about what and how my kids will do at any given moment would be a little more realistic by now. Nope. Just stupid I guess.

Once a week I like to annoy the absolute crappers out of myself and watch Sussie stuff around in her gymnastics class for an hour. I sit and seethe for sixty minutes as she ignores her instructor, swings on the bars and has a half-hearted go at a cartwheel. It’s pretty safe to say she won’t be plucked from obscurity by an AIS agent looking for the next ribbon gymnastics star and I’m totally fine with that.  But sometimes I wish I could reach through the glass, yank her out and drive home in disgust. But I don’t for one fairly simple reason- she enjoys it.

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She loves the trampoline and the mats, the bars and the big soft cubey things. Her face is alight during the warm up and she doesn’t really stop smiling for that hour. She’ll jump ahead in the queue for the movement her group is practising. She’ll launch herself down the trampoline like a bug-eyed toad and then perform some bizarre kind of statued The Thinker pose to stop at the end.

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I’m not expecting this… (Photo courtesy of www.abc.net.au)

I can see the instructor sigh and huff and puff because she is in no way in control of this six-year-old girl. AndI’m so glad Sussie’s got some spunk about her, but the institutionalised teacher in me despairs. How can she be a good student if she’s continuously stuffing around? What will she be like in ten years’ time when it’s not just juvenile bloody gymnastics we’re talking about but Year 11 and Shakespeare?!

I spoke to another mother who was wandering around outside and commented on the fact she never comes in to watch her daughter. “I can’t. All she does is muck around and watching that just makes me angry.”

So I’m not the only one frothing at the mouth as we watch our children make little effort with the sit ups and perform Goldie Hawn like moves around the gymnasium as every other kid patiently works through their tumble turns.

 

Inside, I spoke to yet another mum whose daughter displays similar traits to Sussie’s and we marvelled that they don’t really like playing together. To be fair, it’s probably a good thing since they would possess a ruthless axis of power in the playground which wouldn’t be safe for anyone. But this sensible woman just laughed at my fears and quite pointedly said “We want them to have that spark- we need to encourage it, not stomp it out of them.”

And that’s exactly what I’d be doing if I could reach through the glass into that gym. Squashing down all that lovely spirit and boldness and creating a meek little grey streak of docile girl- not the brave tall and brightly coloured shewolf I need to raise. That would be a travesty, a big middle finger to every feminist step made before Sussie and I.

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…but really how do you end with this after jumping off a trampoline???

 

Instead we get in the car and I ask Sussie whether she enjoyed class today. “Yeah! It was great!” I ask whether she tried her hardest “Yes! Most of the time.” I ask a more pointed question about how her teacher would rate her performance and I get a muffled “I don’t think she’d be very pleased.” We talk about what she thinks she’s doing better at and how she could improve on her behaviour for next week. I ask whether she likes to help people who don’t listen to her and relate that to how her instructor might have felt today. By the time we’re half a kilometre down the road the discussion is over and we’re on to whether we should go for a bike ride this afternoon.

After a series of failed attempts on a pedalled bike with training wheels, we got her a balance bike to try for a few months. Yesterday, she got on what had been a machine of torture a few months ago and rode that pedal bike (without the training wheels) like a boss.

I’m hoping she’ll be strutting through that gymnasium like a boss some day, not lurching like a bug-eyed toad: I guess she already is. In the mean time I might just go for a walk in the sunshine while she carries on inside the gymnasium, thank my lucky stars for this gorgeous ball of spunk and put my expectations back in their ridiculous little box..

Know a kid who lurches to the sound of their own tambourine?

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13 thoughts on “You are a mother now: Expectations are futile.

  1. Brilliant and timely post. I should take note of many important points from this post. 1) instead of feeling like I’ve just spent my last $20 and hope for survival on the dam gymnastics class: go outside and don’t watch. 2) Lighten up. Embrace her and her will . 3) Ask for some self-reflection in the car and move on. Move on!

    Please send more parenting tips on thumb sucking, fingernail biting, pant-soiling, and dealing with a five-year-old attitude bigger than my muffin top!

    PS – Big Congrats and high five for the freedom of independent biking. May you feel the wind in your hair Sussie and never look back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Naww thanks lovely lady! My knowledge is limited and as I said, I’m a bit stupid so you’ll have to wait 6 years for the next piece of rock solid advice! You’re doing an excellent job 🙂 PS WTF I hope you’re referring to the top of some delicious raspberry/whit choc baked good you ate whilst walking outside!!!

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  2. Love it. I’m such a rule follower, and I can see that my daughter is too. My son may not be. I’m watching and waiting. But I think I’ll have many moments like this in the future. You’re right – we just have to let them be who we are. But gosh, it’ll be hard sometimes! #teamIBOT

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  3. Aww she sounds like such an absolute cutie. My daughter has a friend in her dance class like that. I find it quite funny, but I don’t think her mum does 🙂

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  4. I think as parents generally we struggle. We struggle when they stuff around and you are paying for the privilege. We struggle when they are playing a team sport and instead of training they are stuffing around on some poor parent who is volunteering their time. We struggle when like tonight they get home from extra ballet classes for exam prep and one of my twins had a great class and the other had a pretty crappy class because their teacher is an absolute perfectionist and yelled. My heart broke for her and it broke even more when hubby reacted badly because they didn’t tell him. (ummm yelling not helping the tears right now Dad wonder why they didn’t talk!)
    I know as a teacher that yelling is not great but for whatever reason it is exactly how dance teachers are! Their teacher is really a big softy at heart she would be devastated to know how upset she was but at the same time struggle with how to motivate her to do her best.
    I also know that I have at times struggled with their classroom teachers for different reasons and equally struggled with all three of my children because I see too much of me in them. Half-arsed efforts that still get good results so no need to try harder, looking at a task and not being able to do it perfectly so not trying at all, not taking risks you name it.
    I think that partly it is the getting older thing but it is also the trusting other people to love them the same way we do. Trusting other people to bring out the best in our kids without destroying them in the process. Letting them go to find their way in the world. My kids are still only little 15 and 11 but letting them go feels like it needs to start happening so much sooner than it did when I was little.
    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poor old teachers get such a bad wrap sometimes… I guess we’re all just trying to do the best we know how and hope that our kids grow up to be reasonably well adjusted citizens. They won’t be able to do cart wheels but hopefully they’ll be nice people 😉

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