My two year old is on probation.
Well, she didn’t actually use those words. But I’m pretty good at reading between the lines.
The preschool director is really a good friend of mine. I know she would do anything to help me and make my life easier. But she was stuck.
My adorable and mischievous two year old was making life in the toddler class very difficult for his teachers. And no form of discipline was working.
So maybe he needed a break from school…
I couldn’t argue much because I knew exactly what they meant. When I blink, he’s on the counter.
If I blow my nose, it costs me a bag of cereal spread across the floor.
He’s the second of all my kids to master climbing out of his crib before he should be.
But you see, he’s the happiest kid around. He doesn’t even know what the word tantrum means. Because life is FUN and he doesn’t want to waste even one minute of fun to have a boring tantrum.
And his smile. He’s a charmer. He knows how to put on the sweet as sugar smile with the matching tone to shout “Mo-mmyyy!” as soon as he sees me in the morning. He makes my heart melt.
But he’s the reason that every cabinet, refrigerator and door handle in the house has a lock.
And now the preschool was telling me that he was on probation. If he couldn’t follow the rules, he would need to take the month off.
I try to get control of my thoughts.
He’s on probation, not me.
So then why do i feel like I’ve been given the dunce cap?
Why do I feel like I just got a big fat red F on my mommy report card?
Hold on a second! I tell myself.
This is not your first child!
You’ve already proven yourself to yourself.
This is your 8th child you are raising through the lovely toddler years, with the ninth to follow not far behind.
You’ve done this before without probation!
This is not an F!
So then … why does it feel like it is?
I make a mental note to speak to my husband about it later when the house will finally quiet down.
Eventually they’re all asleep.
I start quizzing my husband.
You think we messed up with this one? Was I not strict enough? Did I do something different?
My husband is pretty amused. Something tells me I’ve put him through this string of questions before…
He assures me that there’s this thing called P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L-I-T-Y. And it’s something you’re born with. And this two year old was born with a lot of it. And it has nothing to do with him or me or my husband or his siblings. This is his nature, not a result of nurture.
I know he’s right. But it’s so hard to separate myself from it!
It’s an interesting phenomena.
When our kids achieve successes we want, we pat ourselves on the back.
But if we take credit for their successes, then that means we are to blame for their failures too.
And I disagree with both. The lines often get blurred and there’s something we easily forget.
Each child is their own person. Their. Own. Person. Not a copy of ourselves. Not an outlet for everything we meant to do as a kid. Not a make-up for what we missed out on while growing up. But their own person. Their successes are theirs. And so are their failures.
We are the cheering squad. We encourage, we guide, we lead by example.
But the outcome?
It’s not our report card. It never was and it never should be. Because if it is, then we’ve really missed the point. I know it’s not possible for me to really be there and help any of my children if all I’m seeing in them is me.
I need to see them for who they are and help them be the best version of themselves. And I need to be OK with them not fitting the mold I want to stick them into.
My toddler is on probation. Not me.
He’s adorable. And he was born with a personality and energy that surpasses mine. And it will serve him well through life.
Right now, his preschool teacher can’t handle him. There is no report card.
And that’s life. We’ll figure it out. He’ll be ok, and so will I.