giving up

So it's over, I'm giving up on playgroups.

This morning we went to our usual Monday morning group at the children's centre which is usually pretty good and also quite quiet. This group is really lovely, they have lots of fun activities to do with sensory, creativity and learning, plus other good toys and a lovely outside play area, so I'm sad to maybe not go anymore, maybe I will occasionally. It's not the playgroup itself that I don't like, it's the other parents. And this goes for other playgroups too, I don't like the parents.

I find it stressful being there, negotiating fair play and having to constantly watch over your chid, because let's face it, Theo isn't the most gentle child in the world. But I hate the way I'm made to feel, like I have a terror of a child, who is a complete anomaly and like no child has ever acted that way before. I feel constantly judged (by parents not by the actual staff who work there). Yes Theo hits other children, occasionally pushes and very rarely bites. He's loud, he's energetic and he's boisterous. He get's over excited, he wants to play with what ever anyone else is playing with and he gets frustrated. But he's not the only one who ever does this. I didn't choose for Theo to be like this, and we certainly don't encourage or use violence on him at home or anywhere. But that's just the way he is, and hopefully it will pass at some point, hopefully soon. The majority of parents you meet usually have a kind word to say about it, along the lines of "don't worry, we've been there" or "it's ok, they're usually the same" which is nice, it shows they know what you are going through and that they know it will pass. But some parents it seems just judge, say things that when thought about later are actually quite rude, and just generally make you feel like a bad parent.

Whenever Theo hits or snatches, each and every time I will take him to one side and explain that what he did wasn't very nice, that he might have upset or hurt the other child, and that we need to say sorry. 70% of the time he will say sorry, and all is forgotten. Sometimes he doesn't and will try and hit again, and if that's the case then he'll get a warning that we have to leave, and if he does it again, then we will leave. I use positive encouragement and praise when he's behaving nicely and we talk and explain how to share and wait our turn. I know that I'm doing everything I can to help him through this phase, and I always do this, but still I feel like I am judged. Just because you're child has never, or isn't old enough to act in this way doesn't mean that you are a better parent than me, just because you haven't been tested in this way it doesn't mean that you won't be tested in other ways, and when or if they do I hope that people aren't there judging you or making comments. Because it's hurtful, and it goes pretty deeply when people criticise your parenting or your child.

The thing is, is that this is just one side to Theo, and maybe this is all they see of him, but in general he is a lovely little boy. He is incredibly friendly, and will say hello and try to make friends with everyone. He is polite and kind, will always say thank you and please. He does like to share and involve other people in what he's doing and he's a bright and inquisitive child. He's outgoing and affectionate and happy. He will always check if his friends are ok, try and help them up if they've fallen or will wonder why if they're upset. I know all this because I'm around him all the time and I see all these sides so it's really hard when you are made to feel like you are the mother of a out of control child. Because he's not out of control, he's a two year old boy with lots of energy. And at this period in time, before his language is fully developed, it's hard for them to speak their frustration and easier to act out and hit.

But until that point I think I'm just going to give the whole playgroup thing a break. But now that the weather is getting better more outside trips can be made. I have a friend who has been through the very same thing with her little boy who is a few months older than Theo, and who herself can't handle small confined spaces with lots of other small children and toys anymore either, and we have pledged to just go out on day trips, to go on walks, to the park, or play in the garden.

So there! I just hope that parents will stop judging each other and just try their hardest to be the best parent they can for their own children and respect that they may not know or see the whole side of the child or the parent they are criticising. We're all in this together!