I have a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I have been mentored by some of the best early childhood professionals in the region. And I have been a preschool teacher at a quality rated program and a director at another. Naturally, I assumed since I’ve been giving advice on how to handle children for years that I would be the best parent ever.
And then Ev happened.
Every day I am amazed by what that little boy does and knows. But I am not the parent I always dreamed I would be. It’s even more blatantly clear now that Ev has reached textbook toddlerhood. He is still very dependent, but wants to be independent. He wants to make his own choices and he is very, VERY self-centered. I know from my education and experiences in the classroom that I should provide him lots of opportunities for exploration, sometimes exploring the same thing over and over again and try to give him choices rather than make demands.
But sometimes I don’t have the answer. Like this morning when I gave Ev a string cheese to eat on the way to child care, like I do every morning, and he threw it under the stove. He started screaming, but fortunately my husband was able to distract him by asking him to help give the dogs their morning biscuit (his “job” in the morning and something he loves to do).
When we got to his program, though, he decided he wanted the string cheese after all. I explained he couldn’t have it because it was dirty and we’d thrown it away, and he started rolling on the ground and refused the apple slices they were serving for breakfast. I looked at his teacher and had no idea what to tell her, finally saying, “I’m sorry, I hope his day gets better.”
And by the time I left it was. Ev was happily eating cheerios – a choice given by his teacher – and his apple slices.
So I’m not the best parent ever. Not even close. I often look to others for support: friends and family, and I do a lot of reading. Even though I have all of the right “tools,” I still know I don’t always respond the way I should. Perhaps the perfect parent doesn’t exist. But even if we aren’t perfect, my husband and I are still the best parents for Ev.