Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Doctor is In

Claire and I have been enjoying our developmental movement class. Each week, my daughter enjoys hanging out with other babies while listening to the ukulele. I like that Claire is the star of the class on her tummy – thus indulging a baser impulse in me to live through my child for the first time.

This weekly delight was sullied a bit, though, when the group leader asked why we’d all taken his class. Most of the moms talked about spending more time on tummies or rolling over. I launched into my background as a special education teacher. How I’ve seen everything from reading disorders to writing difficulties go hand in hand with delays in gross motor skills. I said I was taking the class because I wanted to make sure that I was supporting Claire’s development in this area.

The other moms were interested in what I had to say. Not Dr. Movement. Perhaps my answer was too intense for him or I took up too much time. Perhaps I stepped on his toes a bit. He started by letting me know that delays in gross motor skills don’t necessarily translate into academic struggles. Then he warned me that my deficit model philosophy as a special educator could cause me to look for problems in my daughter instead of celebrating her strengths.

His lecture rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t like to be lectured. I don’t like to be lectured in front of people. I don’t like to pay someone to lecture me. And, most importantly, he couldn’t have been more off base. I think Claire is just perfect, thank you very much. I am not worried about a deficit in her. I am certain the problem lies within me. Wait, so there’s the skewed philosophy…children are born perfect and their parents mess them up. I will be no different as a parent.

This belief of mine was surely born of the therapist-ridden culture of NYC. Everyone I know is either messed up by their parents, thrives in spite of them or has had years on the couch to get back to status quo. Unbeknownst to him, Dr. Movement helped me realized that I had been either resigning myself to this fate for Claire or working myself into a frenzy trying to fight it. Well, that seemed a humorless perspective to me, and I started thinking it was precisely this vibe that made Dr. Movement give me a good talking to.

In the end, I am thankful to him. My perspective is a problem, just not the one he thought. Claire deserves a mom who feels confident in her ability to parent her. She needs a mom who can just let her be. So, as she works on her mini-pushups in class, I’m going to work on an attitude adjustment.


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