I remember being a kid and I hated when adults would try and tell me what it was like when they were kids. I hate that even now. Honestly, I do not think much changes beside the person’s perspective.
That being said. I can proudly say that when I was 8 years old I could do the following things: bathe myself; eat with a fork properly; play by myself for longer than 10 minutes; sit through an entire movie; say please, hello, and thank you; go to the toilet to go to the bathroom;play nicely with my sister… so on and so forth. Now, I really don’t think that list makes me a genius or even out of the ordinary at all, right? Well, I am actually really starting to wonder.
When I was in class yesterday, some of the au pairs were talking about how our families we live with raise their children. I did not grow up in an abusive household at all. My parents spanked me a very few times growing up. They were never ones to yell at me in public… or at all for that matter. But, I did get reprimanded. My parents are the furthest things from lazy. They put in time and effort. They taught me to talk to adults and be polite. They encouraged my freedom but also highly valued time spent with family. Now, I am not sure if this is a cultural thing or a common trait among those with au pairs but parents here seem to raise their kids very different. I am not saying they don’t do the aforementioned things but they seem to do it in a very different way. An au pair in my class commented on the fact that the parents seem to encourage bad behavior. If the kid screams and cries, they get what they want. Why? I personally do not understand. There is a mom in our class and she said sometimes there are so many things going on that the parent just needs to think about the present. I completely understand this. And yes, there are many, many times I do the same. But, I also think the overall big picture is important to think about. I think parents with au pairs are so busy that when they are with their children they don’t want the kids to be upset. So, they shower them with love and give them everything they want. I also understand this. And this very well may be the way to do it… I just don’t know.
Example. Edgar is 4 years old. An age where I seem to think you can walk by yourself and feed yourself. However, he demands to be carried and fed every time. Yes, the easiest thing to do is give in and get him to stop his screaming. But what is this teaching him? Last night, I spent 20 minutes trying to get him to eat on his own.I believe it is important to work with him so he understands that this is something he needs to do. I mean he’s 4! He would make a little progress and then revert back to crying. However, I was not going to give up. Then his mom just sits down and feeds him. I felt a little disheartened. 20 minutes was wasted. Here I am thinking I’m helping the kid grow into a normal person and apparently I am actually just blowing steam.
I am in no way saying my way is right and hers in wrong. They are both very good parents. With being an au pair, you constantly have to remind yourself that you are watching the kids, not raising them. I want to do things with the kids that my parents did with me. I know I am not perfect but I do feel like I have good qualities that I learned from my parents. However, what is the point if that is not ultimately the goal of the parents as well?? Again, I am by no means saying one way is right or wrong, I am just curious about the differences in raising children. I constantly remind myself that I am here to watch the kids and continue what their parents are teaching them. It is hard to go against my instincts sometimes but again happy about this learning experience.
Being an au pair is so weird because you are an outside observer to someone’s life, someone’s family. There is so much to be learned here and it is an experience like no other. I feel like I have grown so much. Patience. Patience. Patience.