Here's something that still has me shaking after a whole day. I couldn't fall asleep last night. I am trying to figure out why exactly that is - because I'm so terrified of government institutions because I'm an ACoN and my NF was so much into doctors and teachers and all these authority figures; or because I'm so vulnerable and defensive about my parenting because I know at a deep level that I can never be an adequate parent. Anyway, feel free to point out my craziness out to me. This is what I wrote about it on a parenting forum:
So, I live in a post-Communist country. Public schools and certain
medical check-ups for children are mandatory (and free, by the way; but
Today I had the pleasure of taking my 2.5 yo daughter for a first
check-up with a speech therapist and defectologist AND getting
information from them about my 5 yo's check-up that was conducted in her
It was a real treat.
I was told my (wonderful, sweet, smart, almost bilingual, introverted) 5
yo is "socially impaired" (because she's shy in large groups and with
strangers), "behind" (because she apparently didn't know all the
arbitrary things expected from her at that age), and needs help from
The (pretty mean-looking, intimidating, crabby) lady told me it was
obvious my daughter wasn't used to a "collective" - she'd been at home
with us all her life before preschool and never went to daycare, something they obviously
saw as neglectful and somehow evil - and she needed institutional help
so she'd catch up with other, "socialized" children.
When I asked exactly what techniques and methods she thought she could
use to help my daughter adjust to a school setting with more ease, the
woman frowned at me and said "That's for me to know!" I replied: "I
can't give my consent unless I have information on what you propose to
do to my child" and she still wouldn't tell me! So I declined - the lady
was giving me, a grown woman, the creeps, I certainly don't want to
expose my sensitive child to her!
She said my child had cognitive issues. When I asked for examples, this is what I got:
- "She couldn't name all the body parts"
"I find that hard to believe," I replied. "Which ones couldn't she
name?" I asked and got NO REPLY. My kid knows how to name body parts in
two different languages and this was absurd.
- "She couldn't count to ten"
"She can count to one hundred," I replied. Perhaps she was terrified of this lady.
- "She couldn't name the days of the week."
OK, this one is true. My kid doesn't know the names of the days of the
week. Those are seven words that she can cram by heart in two minutes,
but what's the point of it in a 5 yo's life? She's just never been
interested. She can tell time, though, but that doesn't matter, because
the guidelines say that a 5 yo must know the days of the week or be
deemed cognitively impaired. (Added: I actually taught her those seven words yesterday and it took all of 90 seconds.)
I said my child was fluent in two languages, and she reprimanded me for
that, as it is bad for a child to be bilingual - a child must first
learn her own language well before she's exposed to another one. I immediately got scared and defensive and said I couldn't prevent her - she just picks up languages effortlessly!
(And, only after writing this, I actually find the courage to say that
this is baloney! I studied language development in uni and there's
nothing wrong with being bilingual!)
Then it was my baby's turn. She was, to begin with, speech impaired -
yes, she develops verbally a bit slower, but she's got a good ear and is
catching up quickly. She just started showing an interest in learning
words later. She's more interested in her motor development. (She speaks more than 200 words at age 2.5, and is learning new ones every day.)
They were concerned and seemed to blame me for not "working with her"
enough. See, I have to actively teach my child speech, not just talk to
her in a normal way.
One horrible oversight on my part is not teaching my children
onomatopoeic words. You see, a child will never learn how to speak and
will forever lag behind if you don't drill into her when she's two years
old that a doggie says "woof" and a cow says "moo" and a sheep says
"baa". Or whatever. I told them I wasn't sure I knew them all and I am a
language and literature teacher at a university.
(I just remembered - she does know that a mouse says "click" )
It was problematic that my 2.5 yo was still not "part of a collective" -
i.e. at daycare 8 hours a day. (I have no reason or desire to put my
child in daycare).
And it was shocking to them when my toddler asked to nurse. They asked me why on
Earth I was still nursing her. I answered "Because the WHO encourages
it until at least the age of 2, and then further if both mother and
child are happy with it," to which I was given a lecture about the bad
quality of my milk.
My milk has great quality, by the way. It has just been used to cure
conjunctivitis in my toddler and myself, and has warded off strep throat
for my toddler.
Then she said I was attaching my toddler to myself by nursing so long,
and she won't be able to be a part of a collective and learn well in the
future because of it!
I asked her what research she has to back that claim up and mentioned
that experiments in attachment psychology (Harlow, Ainswhorth, Bowlby
and others) have demonstrated that securely attached children actually
do a better job exploring and learning.
To which she replied that I can have my theories, but it was her job to tell me what the consequences of my actions were.
All this time, they were talking to me and asking me questions, never
even looking at my toddler. The poor kid noticed toys in a box and tried
to get them, which I attempted to bring to their attention, but they
ignored it, and she gave up and headed towards the soap on the sink. I
got up and took the soap away from her, as it looked yucky, and the
speech therapist had the nerve to reprimand me for not listening to her,
but paying attention to my child instead!
I've been sad, angry, crushed, all day long. My husband told me we
should just ignore it all and keep doing our thing. But I can't help
feeling both reprimanded as a bad mother AND afraid for my child in the
future, if people like this ever get to her. Trying to turn her from an
introvert into an extrovert. Trying to make her into a neat case with
all the right boxes ticked. Knows days of the week? Check. Detached from
parents and adjusted to the collective? Check. Fully "socialized", i.e.
Really, feel free to comment honestly. Am I being overly narcissistic and defensive? Part of me believes I truly am an inadequate and neglectful mother and that my children really are better off with anyone else; and part of me wants to protect them from these people; then the other part of me tells me that's because I'm trying to keep them for myself and from the people who'd love them more and do better by them because I'm a neglectful narcissist; then I go insane.