“What grade is he in?”
Oh no, not that conversation again!
I answer while trying to hide my impatience, knowing the next question coming from this fellow mom.
“Really? How old is he?”
Do I need to really answer? Do you really care how old he is? But I’m too polite, I casually answer anyway.
“How can that be, isn’t he too young for that grade? Why did you push him up?”
I smile sweetly, not reflecting my annoyance.
No, he obviously is not too young, or the school wouldn’t allow him in that class. Like I said, does it bother you?!
And I marvel once again at a familiar mommy trait that surfaces so often amongst well-meaning moms when in conversation.
We get uptight when we hear that someone else’s child appears to be “ahead” of ours. A grade ahead, a subject ahead, even a shoe size ahead.
You name it, despite that fact that it’s so irrelevant, it pushes that mommy-alert button. And we take it as our mission to share some unsolicited advice of why our fellow mom should doubt her decision.
See, my son is one of the younger ones in his class, second to youngest to be precise. Considering the not-so-typical schooling he had, with kids that were not his age, he learnt different skills at a different rate than if he was in a plain old boring typical school. That, together with his extremely sharp, energetic and quick mind, made the decision which grade to put him in all the more critical. Some kids will just go with the flow wherever they are. And some kids won’t.
So it was a choice between being the oldest of one grade or youngest of the other.
It was a choice between keeping him challenged and on his toes and or make him suffer in boredom, relearning skills and material he knew and therefore he’d drive his teacher crazy.
It was a decision for the parents, namely myself and my husband, who know our dear son the very best, to decide.
And each option had pros and cons. It was not simple. But one side eventually outweighed the other, and we made our decision. He would do much better as the youngest of the class, where he would be challenged.
One thing I hadn’t counted on, however, was the abundance of self doubt that would be induced by so many well meaning moms!
I know, I have been the receiver of the above conversation more times than I can count. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being made to doubt my own decision. The panic. The worry.
Am I ruining my child?
Help, what if this will destroy his self esteem?
What if I’m ruining his chances of success in life?
The what-ifs are endless!
But I’ve learned how to fight the self doubt.
See, it’s pretty simple.
I’m the mom. My husband is the dad. We know our kids best. And until someone lives with someone else’s children, they’re really not qualified to give an opinion.
It’s a big responsibility to decide where to place your child; some schools offer no flexibility, Some schools do offer options; like the schools my kids attend. And so I need to trust myself.
I’ve met some moms who are adamant that they’re kid should be the oldest in the class; kind of gives the kid the upper hand over the rest of the class.
And that’s where I get to exercise my commitment of not judging other moms’ decisions, because I strongly disagree with that sentiment!
Personally, my opinion is, someone has to be the oldest and someone has to be the youngest. So that’s not the most important factor in my decisions.
I prefer to consider their social skills, their nature, how they are stimulated and how they are challenged.
And so when the conversation starts up again and I say, “Yes, he is one of the younger kids in the class,” I take a deep breath to remind myself firmly; I’m the mother, I know my kid best.
And I make a mental note of a golden mommy rule; no one appreciates unsolicited advice about their kids. And even more importantly, don’t ever judge another mom’s decisions.
So to all my fellow moms out there making these decisions, listen up; you can find professional advice advocating both sides. You can get opinions from everyone down to the bus driver and the mailman. Why, you can even ask the wonderful wide world of Facebook and get to hear from every and any non professional in the region! There’s no end to the options!
But will it help make a decision? Or just make you doubt your gut feeling?
Forget the professionals; use your motherly instincts.
You know your kid best. Despite what other moms will tell you.