Parenting can sometimes feel like a competition. It starts with innocent questions about the birth, breastfeeding, whether your baby is crawling or sleeping through the night. Then it continues, is your child toilet trained, can they count to 20, know the alphabet? In Kindy it’s the questions about sight words, what’s packed in their lunch box, class awards. It’s ridiculous.
Play along with me and imagine that parenting is a competition. That there is some tangible way in which parenting can be assessed. I’d love to win the award for ‘most polite child’ or ‘child who falls asleep in 7 minutes or less’. Yet there are many ‘my child is the worst…’ competitions that no parent wants to win. Here’s three ‘my child is the worst’ awards that I wouldn’t wish on any parent.
My child is the worst sleeper
As a parent you hear of those babies that sleep through the night by the time they are 6 weeks old. I’ve never had one of those kids. It’s a totally foreign concept. But no one wants to be the parent who is the most sleep deprived. Surely? I’ve had (have) chronic cap nappers. I have never experienced that “i heart naptime” feeling. My kids, especially the biggest lad, are terribly early risers. We’re talking 6am, best case scenario. I’ve never had to wake him so we can get out of the house in the morning. I’ve bemoaned my child who is 18 months old and still waking three to four times a night. Yet I’ve no doubt other parents are getting even less sleep than me. I’m more than happy for the award for ‘my child is the worst sleeper’ to go to some other poor parent. I’ll shout them a coffee to say congratulations!
My child has the worst health
There’s no right minded parent who wants their child to be sick. I’ve spent time on the children’s ward while my eldest son was treated for nasty respiratory issues. A well-meaning Grandparent told me ‘you can die from asthma’. I’ve seen enough other children being wheeled in to surgery, some with their tiny little heads shaved, to know that I was lucky my child was being treated for asthma. Those parents with sick kids, spending days, weeks and even months in hospital, absolutely would not want to win the competition of sickest child. They would do anything in their power for a healthy child. If there were a somewhat dubious award going to the parent with the sickest child, I suspect the ‘winning parents’ would happily hand that award over to another parent. While at the same time wishing no parent had to endure the heartbreak of a sick child.
My child is the worst eater
Kids that won’t eat reasonably nutritious food are the cause of much angst for their parents. There are kids that will only eat their vegetables separate, other’s whose veggies have to be hidden, there’s kids that will only eat meat, and there are kids that won’t let a single type of fruit or vegetable pass their lips.
Having a fussy eater is stressful. You’re forced to cook multiple meals. You worry about whether they are getting enough vitamins and minerals from their diet. You worry they are hungry. You worry about all the amazing taste sensations they are missing out on. You’re also judged by those who believe that ‘kids won’t starve themselves’ (I’m looking at you, Curtis Stone). You’re judged because the lunch box is bland and includes processed foods. Taking the family out for a meal is made even more stressful by the fear that there will be absolutely nothing on the menu acceptable to the fussy child.
Parents of fussy eaters read all the books, they go to seminars on healthy eating, they attend courses to learn to cook kid friendly food, they consult nutritionists and occupational therapists. Sometimes they lay awake at night contemplating whether hypnosis is an ethical option to get their kid to eat. No parent wants a truly fussy eater.
Of all the ‘my child is the worst’ competitions, regretfully I reckon I’d be in the final three of the fussiest eater category. But I do not want that gold medal. In fact I’d prefer not even to be in the race. I’d swap the medal for ‘my child is the worst eater’ if it meant the biggest lad would eat a vegetable. Any vegetable.
No parent wants the award for ‘my child is the worst’ anything
I get that those parents sharing the horror stories of parenting aren’t trying to compete. Those parents, me included, just want empathy and recognition that they are doing it tough. Maybe they want some reassurance that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel of sleepless nights, endless hospital trips or painful mealtimes. I’m also pretty sure that those parents, in fact all parents, would happily forgo the dubious title of ‘my child is the worst’ anything!
Which ‘my child is the worst’ award would you win? Worst (or should that be best) at throwing tantrums? Worst at going to sleep at bedtime? Or is there a parenting competition you really don’t want to win?