How times (and childhoods) have changed. When I was a child, outside influences intrigued us, our curiosity was encouraged and we asked endless questions more or less as soon as we discovered our vocal chords.
We were disciplined, bad behaviour wasn’t tolerated and we learned to accept that we couldn’t have everything we wanted. We also knew right from wrong, had respect for our elders and other people’s property, lived to a set of values and developed a sense of pride.
I was born in a council house. We never had fancy holidays or a new car, but us kids didn’t go without the important things, and we were lucky to have both parents to pester with our childish chatter. Yes, we may have been quiet around strangers or in unfamiliar surroundings, but that didn’t mean there was something wrong with us. “Children should be seen and not heard” and “Speak when you’re spoken to” were drilled into us in the early years as a matter of good manners.
I attended infant (first) school at 5, yet today kids go to nursery school at 3 or thereabouts. My great niece is just over 2, and already has been labelled with ‘speech problems’ because she is quiet. She is taken to a special school for 2 hours 2 times a week, so to me the “terrible 2s” have been replaced with a totally new concept.
A great nephew was diagnosed with learning difficulties when he was two and a half because he was unable to communicate properly and frustration made him angry.
He is now approaching 7 and his brother is 5. Their Mum left school with no qualifications and had her first baby at 18. No problem, I have no issues with young Mums! Her partner couldn’t and wouldn’t hold down a job yet expected her to work full time, look after the house and their son whilst he controlled the money. Apart from work, she had little adult company, he was forever putting her down, leaving her on her own and had hardly any interest in the child which she took to a minder during the day. I met him once. He didn’t acknowledge me when I offered to shake his hand and turned his back. I was somewhat surprised when I learned another baby was on the way. However, I was not surprised when they split up and she suddenly found herself a single parent, up to her eyes in debt. Kids pick up on atmosphere, so if she and her partner engaged in little conversation unless they were arguing, perhaps this is why the eldest boy was slower to develop a sense of curiosity and chatter. My niece is now in a stable relationship with someone who truly cares for her and who interacts with both boys. The eldest is doing well at school, but will always be surpassed by his brother.
Another niece was almost 30 when she had her daughter. She has been with her partner for 9 years, though they have only been living together for 6. Ill health has prevented her from working, and his job takes him away a lot, so my niece is on her own most weekdays. She visits her Mum every day, but at weekends, they do everything as a family. Daddy thinks the world of them both, and their little girl is really sweet. Although I agree she was quiet, this could be because she is just shy of strangers. After all, she was just a baby when we saw her before. During our visit, she happily danced with her mummy to a musical toy, then finding the biscuit tin, took one for herself and selected one for each of us adults.
My eldest niece had her first baby at 16, had been married and divorced three times by her mid twenties having had a second child with her second husband. Her 18 year old daughter is expecting a baby in a few weeks. Mother and daughter have been at loggerheads since the girl was 12 so she left home at 14. It is only now that they feel able to share the same roof, and it is more than likely her other child will simply blend into the background and get on with being herself as all attention will be on her sister again. There is no partner on the scene and one can only wonder how long this relationship is going to last once the novelty has worn off. That may seem harsh, but I don’t apologise for it. In my opinion, one is not a good example of a mother, and the other is just a selfish brat.
Making mistakes is part of the growing up process though. I’ve made some whoppers but have tried to learn by them. Many say I have a nerve speaking out and thinking the way I do as I don’t have kids. That was not by choice by the way, just the way things worked out for me. I’ve had experience with kids of varying ages, so have seen and dealt with an array of problems including parental divorce, bullying, abuse, glue sniffing and teenage alcoholism, so I appreciate bringing up children is by no means plain sailing.
I look at my family and the offspring that have been produced, and feel what I can only describe as disappointment I suppose. It’s nothing to do with having babies too young or too old. As far as I know, all of these babies were planned, even at the tender age of 16, which was more of a rebellion against the house rules and she’d already left home by then. There is parental support for these recent generations to some extent but guidance seems to be lacking, so where, when, how and why did it diminish the way it has? In today’s society, adults are worrying about money, work or health, and children seem to be left more or less to their own devices in the early years. Because so many parents have to work, many are passed on to strangers where One-on-One is impossible due to the number of similar kids from similar stressed out families.
Childhood is short enough but today, natural development is not allowed in young children, individuality is not encouraged and kids become tagged with some personality or learning disorder simply because they do not conform to some computer generated tick list or time frame.
We are all different, as are kids. It’s just a shame that the “professionals” refuse to accept that.