I've been having lots of deep thoughts lately. Of course, I've also been taking a lot of cold medicine, so the deep thoughts might not be as deep as they seem to be to me :) Thoughts that are triggered by a couple of things- mainly the whole "Tiger Mother" controversy and also by Ethan's recent medical stuff.
Thoughts triggered by the whole Tiger Mother thing: My first reaction to the essay (which the author said was kind of taken out of context and the entire book should be read to really understand her mothering style) was amusement. My husband is the Chinese person in our family, but I am the one who had a strict upbringing with much higher expectations than what he grew up with. That's partially due to the fact that Daniel's family immigrated to Canada when he was 7 and he was dumped in a normal classroom- no ESL classes, nothing. He had to learn English and keep up in classes all at the same time, which, understandably put him at a disadvantage. But I'm pretty sure that he's said before that part of the reason his parents wanted to leave Hong Kong was that they didn't want their kids to grow up in the high pressure school system there.
I was raised to always be the best. I needed to be in gifted classes and advanced programs. If I got a B on a report card, there was a discussion. Music lessons were a must and my friendships were closely monitored. And, honestly, it was probably a good way to raise me. I tend toward laziness and not living up to my full potential, so I did need to be pushed.
That being said, Daniel turned out well too. He doesn't have the advanced degree that I had, and he didn't get the grades that I did, but he's extremely successful at his career and he's a fabulous person. So, when thinking about child-rearing styles, my thoughts were always along the lines of "average is fine and not the end of the world!" Because in the end, it's who my kids are as people that really matters. Way more than grades on a report card. Sure, we'll encourage and suggest things and will have rules and expectations. But I don't want to ever hear myself questioning a grade on a test or report card if my kid has tried and done his/her best.
Anyway, this whole Tiger Mother thing has brought all these thoughts back into my mind and I've been reflecting on what I imagined, versus my reality. What I never expected or thought through was special education. I never expected to be discussing IEPs and special classes for my kid. Don't get me wrong, I am in NO way upset by this, it just isn't a situation that ever crossed my mind pre-kids or in the early days of parenthood. I'm so glad that Ethan is going to get the help he needs and that resources exist to help him deal with his issues and be the best that he can be. It's just a world that I didn't imagine living in. More proof that life is never what you expect it's going to be.
Thoughts triggered by Ethan's medical stuff: As I mentioned, yesterday at the museum, a lady struck up a conversation with me about Ethan's NG tube. And I realized that again, I'm in a world that I never pictured living in. I didn't think I'd be the one discussing things like this with strangers. I didn't imagine learning a whole new vocabulary. Or having a house filled with syringes and tubes and pumps and medical supplies.
And the point of this whole post: This is where I am. This is my reality. We are the family dealing with special education and medical needs. But we're not alone here. I'm not alone in this path- there are women like the lady that I talked to yesterday- sisters in these challenges- people who have the same vocabulary and similar experiences. There are other bloggers and people on message boards and people who have been there and who understand. People who can offer reassurance and suggestions. I'm so grateful for this.