Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On your marks...

As pretty much anyone who knows me would tell you, there are certain things to which I tend to be oblivious. I never, ever know what's cool or trendy, and wouldn't know the "ritzy" car to buy or neighborhood to live in unless they came equipped with signs. When I was working, I trundled merrily along, thinking that there was little or no sexism in my office. It wasn't until I was about to leave that my (younger, thinner, more attractive) colleagues started sharing with me the stories of the things the men in our firm said to them. And now that I'm a SAHM in a town with a reputation for cut-throat competition, I though I had simply found a group of moms who just weren't into competing with each other. Until I was at playgroup this morning and heard three of them bragging about how their kids can identify all the letters of the alphabet, and may even possibly be reading.

It was amazing, hearing these normally perfectly sane moms play one-upmanship. One child can identify the letters. Another mom offers that not only does her kid know the letters, she also knows the sounds they all make. First mom comes back with a story about how they took their kid to the store, and the child knew read all the letters on the sign. Second mom counters with how her daughter knows the names of where everyone in the family works. Third mom has been long pushed out of the competition, having lost when she revealed that her child only knows a-l. (For the record, I do not have a dog in this race. M knows neither her letters nor the sounds that they make. And while she loves books, she is nowhere close to actually reading. And I'm ok with that.)

The thing is, Second mom is a pusher. She is constantly pushing her kid into one thing or another. First, it was potty training (and, to the mom's credit, her kid no longer uses diapers). Now it seems to be reading and other preschool activities. She's constantly quizzing her daughter; she makes sure that the child plays with the alphabet magnets or finds a book for the mom to read to her while the other kids play. She claims her kid just prefers these activities to any others, and for all I know, it's true. But I do think that kids like what they're exposed to, and if they're getting a constant stream of "enrichment activity" hurled at them, then that's what they'll learn to like.

Now, as judgmental as I sound, I do honestly believe there's no one way to parent. And I don't have a problem with the mom pushing her kid academically. But boy, does it piss me off when she brags about her child and then pretends that she isn't the one that's pushing for this brain-fest. If you want to have the kid that's first to meet each milestone, great! More power to you. But rest assured, we will all notice and applaud your child's precocity eventually. No need to push it in our faces.

(oh, and I'm aware of how sour grapes I sound. Can you believe me when I tell you that I long ago accepted the fact that I'm a lazy mom? M isn't even started toilet training, chiefly because I dread the thought of having to scope out public bathrooms at a moment's notice. Diapers are just easier, for now.)


Jana said...

Amen! I can't stand the "mommy competition"!

chris said...

In my old mother's group (and granted, it was in Montgomery County MD), the moms were competitive about who held their head up first. You can just imagine how bad it got when the first one started walking.