On the 4th hour of “Today” on NBC several weeks ago, Kathie Lee told the writer of an article about the superiority of French parenting that it is “so important” that children be self-sufficient and play independently. Why is it “so important” and who says so?
A woman in the original article told her American friend that she works all day, and so evenings are her time. Adult time. She doesn’t want to spend HER time with the children. They need to be able to entertain themselves. I wonder when is the children’s time. Why have children if you don’t want to be around them?
I hear about the importance of independence all the time.
My three year-old is supposed to just leave me the hell alone. When she goes to bed, I’m supposed to close the door and walk away from her, ignoring her cries. She needs to learn to self soothe. She needs to learn, apparently, that the world is a scary, ugly place where she will not get her needs met. Mommy won’t always be there, so Mommy should start NEVER being there. As soon as possible. Some people say at four months, we should start “teaching” our babies to be alone by letting them cry in their cribs.
What will happen to her if she gets used to me holding her and stroking her hair and telling her audacious lies like “It’s going to be okay”? She won’t be ready! The world will beat her down. Or worse yet, she will be an “entitled brat.” That’s what I hear about children who are raised like I raise mine. They’re brats. They cry when they are sad, scared, mad, or disappointed. They need me and their father. They have not been trained to be compliant and “nice.” The last one is intentional by me. I don’t want my daughters to be nice. Bad guys prey on the nice.
My children are too young to be independent. They’ll be independent for decades. They’re supposed to be dependent now. It says so right on my taxes.
I’m the one who is supposed to be independent. I have to lead by example. It isn’t always easy. Fuck, it’s NEVER easy. I love being with my children. I rarely spend any time alone. Parents of older children and grown children tell me to enjoy it now. My own father, who has a daughter in college as well as four grandchildren, told me as he admired the all-consuming love my baby showers on me: “It will never be like this ever again. She will never love you as much as she loves you right now.” He says it with a broken heart. He tells me how that Subaru commercial where the dad is giving the keys to a six year-old who suddenly turns into a 16 year-old breaks him every time. “I know it’s coming. I know that it will cut to her as an adult, but it still gets me and squeezes my guts. Every. Time.”
But I’m supposed to make them go away in the evenings, because that’s my time? My time to do what? What about these precious years that go by so fast? What about how you tell me “enjoy it”? What am I supposed to enjoy? Them playing alone in another room?
I would like more time to myself and alone with my husband. No doubt about it. Last weekend we visited with friends who have a daughter graduating from high school. They were in town for a wedding, looking forward to an evening of dancing, drinking, and spending the night together alone in a hotel. Odie and I were practically salivating with envy.
My good friend has a young daughter. No, wait. She just started her freshman year at our school. No! She just graduated! What? When the hell did that happen?
It’ll happen to us too. We’ll be handing over those keys and watching them drive away. Tonight, I’ll watch “The Lion King” again and cuddle them all night long.