You and your squirmy 3-year-old walk to the neighborhood playground, glad to get out of the house. Near the swings, two intense, confident mothers compare notes, each bent on proving her progeny's precocity.
"Little Ashley knows her shapes and colors already," one mom says, pushing her 2-year-old prodigy on a swing. "And she's taking French classes, so she knows them in both English and Français."
"Well, Jeremy knows his colors, but he really was having a hard time with the shapes," another mom laments. "But the flashcards have really helped. Now he's nearly got his numbers and letters as well."
You look over at your child, who is sitting in the sandbox. He's placed his plastic bucket on his head and is hitting the bucket with his toy shovel in one hand, shoving sand in his mouth with the other. Because of your obvious neglect, he's never even looked at a flashcard, and he barely speaks English, let alone French. I'm a failure, you think.
Parenting has become a highly competitive venture. The pressure often
comes from seeing what other parents and children are doing and thinking, I'd better catch up, without ever stopping to question the wisdom of that. Or it's derived from reading too many ads for "developmental" products—most of which are unnecessary but play on our insecurities.
Go on... read the whole thing.
Even if I don't want to admit it, I worry about these things. I was struck completely dumb the other day when I was told that three boys in my son's kindergarten class were already on a hockey team. My son has yet to learn to skate. We're Canadian, aren't we just supposed to know?
I worry. Oh I worry some days if I'm up for this challenge of parenting. I think I have 'second baby syndrome'. That's when you have a second child and it's so different from the first that you think "oh, gee, I guess all the good things I've done with child number one didn't really matter a hill of beans because this wonderful personality he's got was just his from birth. I don't matter as much as I thought I did!!"