Little P loves books. She gets very excited at the prospect of a new book and she’ll read her old favourites over and over again. As a child I was the same, reading everything from Ladybird to End Blyton. But I can remember getting a Dr Seuss book from my cousins when I was about 5 or 6 and I took an instant dislike to ‘The Cat in the Hat’. I hated the rhyming, the nonsense language, the silly looking creature who didn’t even look like a cat to me. So I left it to one side and it was eventually given away to a charity shop.
Last week Little P went into the second hand book shop with her Dad and came home with ‘There’s a Wocket in my Pocket’ by Dr Seuss! She had picked it out herself and in the past week I think we’ve read it to her over 50 times. She adores it, and can almost recite the lines herself at this stage. But here’s the big shocker. I love it too! Finally after all these years I get Dr Seuss. I understand what he was trying to do with these books. The nonsense words really do grab childrens’ ears, the rhyming makes them want listen over again and if a child is learning to read I can imagine how it would make the process so much easier. But my childhood prejudice could have prevented Little P from enjoying all that Dr Seuss fun.
So it got me thinking about parenting and how I came to parenting with a whole backlog of prejudices. Irrational fears, anxieties, likes and dislikes. Some that have been passed on to me by my own parents. Others that have developed through my own personal experiences of life BC (before child!). How do I avoid inadvertently passing those on to Little P? I don’t want her to have an irrational obsession with germs, a morbid fear of raw chicken and public toilets. But yet I can’t constantly censor myself.
Could it be possible for me to change at this point in my life?
The truth is that since Little P was born I can feel myself changing almost daily. As a lifelong worrier I can remember as a child even worrying about going to birthday parties. But I can feel anxiety loosening its grip. It’s almost like there are so many possibilities for worry with a child that I can’t keep up so I just give up! And more importantly there are so many moments of pure joy that they just cancel out the worry. I can also feel myself becoming braver and more optimistic than I ever was before. She is such an outgoing, fearless bundle of fun that her spirit is infectious.
Becoming a Mum can be the biggest catalyst for change. I expected that, after all it is a momentous life event. What I didn’t expect was that I could be changed by this new little person herself. But, naturally enough, as in all good relationships, both parties can often change each other for the better. I forgot to consider the fact that Little P is a person in her own right. Not just somebody to be moulded by me.
When I’m with her she is like a mirror reflecting back, all my prejudices and my flaws. Through her I can see what I need to change about myself, and she provides the inspiration every day for how to make those changes. She’s an individual and at the moment she is developing a character that is distinctly different from my own. So, I will continue to be buoyed and inspired by my relationship with this exciting, developing, interesting person who happens to be my daughter.
I hope she feels the same because in her I also see reflected my positive qualities and I realise that as a Mum I’m not too bad at all. Most importantly I’ll remember as the great doctor himself said:
“A person’s a person, no matter how small”.