I’m a pretty good mom but I’m not good with other people’s kids.
I don’t know those children as well as I know mine, haven’t grown used to their voices, their questions, or their habits. Perhaps I might. Were I around them a lot, I might.
Our friend Torie, Hollie’s preschool teacher, Torie’s good at other people’s children.
But me, I kinda suck at them. Here are a few reasons why (cuz bloggers love lists):
1. I don’t take their injuries seriously enough.
My friend Kevin brought his kids to the park for a playdate with us and while he’d taken the eldest to the bathroom, the middle fell and busted his face on a step.
Bless his heart, that kid wailed.
“Oh my,” I said, “let’s go get your dad.”
I didn’t know how to hug him or help him or comfort him or even staunch the bleeding cuz, wow, that sure does look awful.
To his credit, Hayes seemed to recognize I had no real way of empathizing other than to say everything would be okay and hold his hand. He actually quieted himself while we walked toward the parking lot. Must be a middle child thing.
And in an amazing show of grace, his dad said, “Oh, no worries, we do that stuff all the time.”
But I was paralyzed by it.
Had it been Hollie? Hugs, of course, bloody shirt, slobber and snot on my shoulder, her comfort my only concern. But Hayes? I kinda barely know the kid. I only met him the day after he was born.
2. I don’t correct other kids’ manners, grammar, or behavior.
So I’m not the right pick for a school chaperone on a field trip. Especially not to a crowded aquarium where there were dozens of other schools.
I just sort of watched the little girl they paired with Hollie and me and said things like, “Really?” and “Don’t.”
Then when we’d grown bored with the aquarium because we’d seen all of the exhibits, Hollie and I began to play a game.
3. I make stuff up, pretend a lot, and encourage Hollie to do so as well.
“Draw the fish,” I said to her. “Here’s your paper,” and I pulled a pretend page from a pretend bag and handed it to her. Then I let her pick pretend paints from my pretend crate.
She ran to the fish tank and pretended to paint. It took her a while, it was a big tank. Then she brought the page back and showed it to me, stretched it in front of me.
“Too much grey here,” I said, “but I like the expression here and the use of light over here.”
She took the pretend page away and worked on it and brought it back.
“Very good,” I said.
“I’m going to draw this one,” she said. “May I have some more paper?”
We continued like this for some time. When the other little girl asked what we were doing, we shared the game with her. She tried to play along but quickly grew bored and seemed to decide Hollie and I had gone crazy anyway.
She asked if she could use my phone to take pictures.
4. I trust Hollie with things like iPods and phones and cameras. I don't trust other kids with anything.
I said no.
I know every mother does the best she can in the circumstances she’s given. This realization has helped me forgive all manner of public exhibits and some family members.
I also know we all have capacity. Mine is one. A specific one. My one.
Ever wondered why you relate so well to your own kid but not to other people’s kids? Leave a comment and tell me about it.