I am often asked what the hardest part of parenting is. For me it’s not the lack of hours in the day as whatever I don’t get done today will be still sitting there tomorrow. Nor is it the forever tiredness as I know at the end of the day they will go to sleep and I can too. It’s not any of those things for me. For me it’s the letting my children learn by doing. I don’t mean give them a box of matches so that they learn that fire hurts.
When I was young my mum once said that things like telling me off or letting me learn hurt her more than it hurt me. Back then I assumed my mother was off her rocker and how on earth could it hurt her. But now I know. When my daughter was small she had seen adverts for crème eggs on the TV and she was desperate to try one. It must have been Easter time as there were adverts everywhere tormenting her. Eventually I said if she helped me tidy up and we found enough change around the house then we would go and buy one. With her prized pennies in her hand, off we went to the corner store and bought her first crème egg. She wanted to carry it home, not trusting me with this precious thing. Half way home she couldn’t wait any longer and wanted to eat it. I explained that no we should wait till we got home as she might drop it. She persisted. Now at the point I could have pulled rank and walk the rest of the way with her crying and a thousand pleases from her. Instead I explained that I didn’t think it was a good idea as if she dropped it she wouldn’t be able to eat it and we didn’t have enough change to go back and get another one. She understood but still wanted to eat it. We continued with her unwrapping the foil, eyes as big as saucers at this new wonder in her hand. Her first bite filled her face with the hugest grin I ever seen. Splat, she dropped it after the first bite. She looked at me and being far to wise for her years swallowed hard and carried on walking home. She knew I had meant what I had said and that I had been right.
The walk home was the longest walk I had ever done. She walked silently blinking back the tears. My heart went out to her, I desperately wanted to go back and get another one. Maybe I should have as it was only a crème egg. Just as she learnt from it, I learnt big time too that parenting hurts.