September 10, 2013
Caution Against Any Recipe for Perfect Children
How the Heather Looks is one of my favourite books about parenting and children’s literature, mostly for the wisdom contained in its Afterword. On a surface level, the book itself is really an incredible primer on the lengths parents can go to to make books come alive for their children, as well as a splendid introduction to so many kid-lit classics. But if you didn’t read Bodger’s Afterword, or her extraordinary memoir The Crack in the Teacup, you might imagine that the idyllic 1950s’ family depicted in her book was her reality. Instead we learn that even limitless exposure to the greatest books ever written cannot keep trouble from darkening one’s doors. For some of us, that’s a difficult lesson to learn.
I’m thinking about this now as we’re struggling at our house with an unexpected and really difficult adjustment to kindergarten. I totally thought that we’d gotten off scot-free because Harriet has been in schooling for a year now, and has loved her play-school experience so much. When she began play-school last year, she shed nary and tear and ran along to play like she’d been there always, and I secretly thought that this was a reflection of her character and resilience, as well as my own infinite wisdom as a parent for enrolling her in schooling when the time was right, and for preparing her so well to be in the world. But the last few days have been a hearty Ha! to that idea.
Living a life is so difficult, and loving someone little who is making their way can be so gut-punchingly horrible. You can never be prepared for that, or prepare that little one for everything she might encounter. There is no recipe for a perfect childhood, and while I’d like to wrap the world in cotton-wool, I can’t, so instead I will keep on reminding myself that just loving her so hard is enough,