Remind me one day to tell you about thoroughly checking out your target. This is a perfectly good piece, but it was rejected because I forgot that. Still, I’m back in the saddle again, and as Scarlett O’hara allegedly said, tomorrow is another day.. Despite it, though, the editor said she enjoyed my piece, editors don’t say things like that to save your feelings. I’m still rusty and used to pressing my own publish button, but I’m heartened.
I mentioned to a casual acquaintance recently that I was writing an article aimed parenting magazines. ‘What’s your area of expertise, she wanted to know. Was I a psychologist or teacher? A nurse? Or perhaps I was a childcare worker? I’m all of those and more, I said. I’m a mother and grandmother. I sensed that I’d lost her or I would have explained that parents are like GPs. We do not specialise in one thing, but have a working knowledge of most things.
We don’t know it all at once, of course, I’m not saying that. We serve an apprenticeship of a decade or two before we feel confident about offering advice. As rank beginners mums stumble through the night calls, move on to the potty training,
then taxi driving and heartache mending.
We tango through the parenting journey, taking two steps forward, one step back, head sharply to the left then to the right, quick, quick, slow, slow, quick, one phase at a time. By the time we’ve got the hang of things, our children have cha cha’d out the front door and we are placed on standby till they reinstate us for grandparenting duties.
When we want advice from people who know us and our child, we ask our mothers or aunties. We talk to the sisters or girlfriends who have been on the job before us. But I’m not discounting the experts with academic qualifications. I think that books are a necessary supplement. In my day it was Dr Spock. His book was a revelation. (An updated version, ‘Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care’ is still in print.) Doctor Spock was the first to teach us to trust ourselves and our parenting instincts. Steve Biddulph’s book, ‘Raising Boys’ wasn’t around, then, but would have been a lifesaver. My own childhood experiences didn’t prepare me for sons who would not sit still; who scooted up and down the corridor for hours on end flipping their capes behind them and climbed the tall tree in our back yard. Life was chaos.
Even though they should know better, our children see us as mere baby sitters for their children. Without a diploma or degree to back us up, our opinions don’t count, I thought as I watched my four year old grandson trace the letter A in his activity book. I bring an educational game with me every other week and my grandson and I sit together at the table playing games and chatting about life, the universe and his girlfriend, Madeline.
Parenting is its own reward, a labour of love. Just as well, because otherwise who could afford to hire a nurse, a banker, a psychologist and a chauffeur all rolled into one? But without that piece of paper there’s no use us putting our hands out for a pay packet or expecting people to take us seriously. What price soothing hurt feelings or bandaging scraped knees, eh? But life experience will never have the pull that a DipEd does. I guess I will have to accept that.