I just finished reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, about a mother that pushes her two daughter beyond the point of anything close to normal, in my eyes. However, it did get me thinking. I am probably the opposite in a lot of ways of a tiger mother---I don't push my kids very much at all. I want them to be happy, and discover their own interests, and have time to just think and relax---all of which are not at all tiger woman priorities. But do I do them a disservice, most especially Janey? Does she need to be pushed more---am I missing crucial times in her life to give her the knowledge and skills she needs to have? I don't think so, but I'm far from always right about those things. This morning I pushed her a little---trying to get her to pick the correct letter out of 4 I wrote on a piece of paper. She probably didn't do much better than chance, but I kept trying. She can be lazy---she often just sort of waved her hand over the whole paper, or picked a letter without looking at the paper at all. Is this part of the autism, or just her personality? I've never been very driven---I do well at things that come easy to me, but not at things I have to work at. I was never pushed much, but I don't think I would have liked to be. Perhaps I could have been a doctor or lawyer or something, but I don't think I'd have liked that lifestyle. But are those sour grapes? Hard questions.
And in contrast, I'm thinking about an area where almost anyone would have felt it was appropriate to push Janey, but which may have backfired and caused real problems. She had her physical yesterday, and I talked to her doctor about how she holds in urine for long, long periods. He was quite a bit more concerned than I thought he would be, and said that can be a true problem---that urine retention can cause urine to back up into the kidneys and cause kidney damage, and that he wants me to stop all efforts toward toilet training until the urine holding is resolved. He said kids like Janey sometimes can learn the first part of toilet training, holding in urine, but stall at the second part---letting it go on command, and the result is a serious problem. What bothered me is that I didn't follow my instincts with this one. I didn't think she was ready to be trained, but hey, she's 6, every book you read says you need to get strong with the training, that any child can be trained....so on. And I am sure she WILL be trained, but she wasn't ready now. I think about the times she peed on the floor and I made her help me clean it up and talked to her about how we pee in the potty. Pretty mild stuff, but she can sometimes be listening more than I know, and so she's been trying to do the part she CAN do---holding in the pee. If she isn't better in a month, we have to take her in for more testing to see if she had kidney damage.
I don't know what the message to me is here. Trust my instincts always? If I'd do that, the boys would never have been able to walk outside without holding my hand---they still would be.
It's all tough. Being a parent at all is tough. You made decisions every day that might seem minor, but might actually be hugely major. I'm a bit overwhelmed, but I'll muddle through.