PonderIt

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Retort to "Sorry, but my children bore me to death"

I found this article by Helen Kirwan-Taylor in the Daily Mail of London from a link on the Drudge Report. At first I didn’t know what to make of it. Here is the title:

Sorry, but my children bore me to death!
My first thought, even before I read the article, was “I hope her kids never read this!”
…The lies started when my eldest son was less than ten months old.

Invitations to attend a child's birthday party or, worse, a singalong session were met with the same refrain: 'I would love to but I just can't spare the time.'

The nanny was dispatched in my place, and almost always returned complaining that my son had been singled out for pitiful stares by the other mothers.

I confess that I was probably ogling the merchandise at Harvey Nichols or having my highlights done instead. Of course I love my children as much as any mother, but the truth is I found such events so boring that I made up any excuse.

(snip)

Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different?

While all my girlfriends were dropping important careers and occupying their afternoons with cake baking, I was begging the nanny to stay on, at least until she had read my two a bedtime story. What kind of mother hates reading bedtime stories? A bad mother, that's who, and a mother who is bored rigid by her children.

(snip)

Am I a lazy, superficial person because I don't enjoy packing up their sports kit, or making their lunch, or sitting through coffee mornings with other mothers discussing how Mr Science (I can't remember most of the teachers' names) said such and such to Little Johnny and should we all complain to the headmaster.

At this point in the conversation, my mind drifts to thoughts of my own lunch and which shoes I plan to wear with what skirt.

The other mothers tease me for my inability to know anything about school life. But since when did masterminding 20 school runs a week become an accomplishment? Getting a First at college was an accomplishment.

After reading these paragraphs--especially the last one--my primary emotion was pity. Oh, that woman’s life seems awfully self-centered and superficial. Just a thought exercise, but I wonder what would happen if she ran into financial reversals that made it impossible for her to employ a nanny, or to go to lunch and get her hair done, or to buy the perfect shoes to wear with that darling skirt? What if she lost her job? From these paragraphs, it seems that her life revolves around these things to make her happy.

Something else caught my eye. The author mentions her nanny a couple of times. I wonder what she thinks about her nanny’s accomplishments. It certainly seems that she places her work (journalism) far above that what her nanny does (raising children).

Ms. Kirwan-Taylor then attempts to justify her philosophy of child-raising by discussing parents who give into their children’s every whim.

All us bored mothers can take comfort from the fact that our children may yet turn out to be more balanced than those who are love-bombed from the day they are born.

Research increasingly shows that child-centred parenting is creating a generation of narcissistic children who cannot function independently.

'Their demand for external support is enormous,' says Kati St Clair. 'They enter the real world totally ill-prepared. You damage a child just as much by giving them extreme attention as you do by ignoring them altogether. Both are forms of abuse.'

Child experts are increasingly begging parents to let their kids be.

'Parents think they can design their children by feeding them a diet of Mozart — well they can't,' says Dr Rosenfeld.

Sometimes, apparently, the best thing parents can do for their children is to let them be bored.

(snip)

Because I have categorically said: 'I am not a waitress, a driver or a cleaner,' my children have learned to put away their plates and tidy up their rooms.

It is a great idea to raise self-sufficient children! And I don’t disagree with this research--I think that over-parenting can be terrible for children. But to use this to justify leaving your children to others to raise (to profess boredom even interacting with them)…that’s a little like justifying running red lights because other people shoplift.

Now, I’m not claiming to be a perfect mother (whoa, yeah. Far from it, but trying). Anyone who claims that “Candyland” is the most fascinating game ever is either five years old or lying. And there are times when we don’t go to the park because I am bored of pushing the swings or chasing my daughter away from the road. Any reasonable person is going to be occasionally bored or tired of explaining for the millionth time that we don’t push our baby sister down just because she walks by.

But there are so many moments of joy…when my daughter toddles up to me and lays her head on my lap, just for a second. When both of my children giggle hysterically at each other over nothing I can see. When my son taps his chest and says, with great emphasis, “I’m EZZZZ-Rah!” And a million others that erase the boredom and make it possible for me to go another day.

Ms. Kirwan-Taylor’s children are twelve and ten years old, both boys. I have no doubt that she loves them, in her way. But love is an active verb, in its most mature form. Serving, and being willing to sacrifice for others, is an example of love that I am afraid escapes her.

Ms. Kirwan-Taylor ends her piece with this subtly pathetic anecdote:

They stopped asking me to take them to the park (how tedious) years ago. But now when I try to entertain them and say: 'Why don't we get out the Monopoly board?' they simply look at me woefully and sigh: 'Don't bother, Mum, you'll just get bored.'

How right they are.

And how sad it is.

4 Comments:

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  • This reminds me of a post from earlier about loving a dog. Just because you think the dog is cuddly and cute and you like it to lay in bed with you at night doesn't mean you love it. If you really love a dog, you will care for it and feed it and give it attention. I'm sure the same applies to children.

    What is confusing for me is that I can't see why this woman wrote this article. What did she have to gain by casting herself purposefully as a poor mother?

    By Blogger Bradley, at 7/27/2006 12:35 PM  

  • Strange, bizarre, and icky.

    Heavenly Father lives to bring to pass our eternal life -- our eternal joy. Were He not the loving Father He is, I can't even imagine how tedious I would be to Him.

    But it's not like that at all. And if we assay to live the kind of life He lives, I can't imagine that we will derive more joy from having our highlights done than from serving our children.

    What a poor, sick woman. I feel sorry for her kids.

    By Blogger Reach Upward, at 7/27/2006 12:50 PM  

  • I can't fathom why she wrote the article, either. Maybe she thought she was being clever and provocative--I don't know. I do know that it has created a lot of controversy from readers of her newspaper. Maybe that's what she was after--her bosses can't be too displeased by that.

    As for her children--I totally agree, reach upward. I honestly feel sorry for them. They are almost teenagers--10 and 12--and that's a time when kids are less likely to listen to parents anyway! How much less likely they must be to turn to a parent who is bored by them.

    By Blogger Keryn, at 7/27/2006 3:48 PM  

  • Just found your site but the quote that got me was the last. That is horrible that her kids know she will get bored playing with them, yet she seems to be proud of that fact, somehow. So sad...

    By Blogger Jamie J, at 7/28/2006 2:30 PM  

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