I'm constantly re-evaluating my abilities as a mother, making sure that I am, in fact, a "good mom." I'm sure many people would emphatically conclude that I'm not, as mothers seemed to be judged for damn near everything these days, but to the people that matter most, I usually pass the test. Lately, as my toddler son ventures out into the world and makes friends, I've been thinking things about said friends that leave me, once again, re-evaluating. I've realized, though, that there are things every new mom thinks about her kid's friends, and those things don't make you a bad mom. Sure, they might make you feel guilty and sheepish and even thankful, but they definitely don't make you a bad mom.
The older my son gets, the more I realize that the majority of his learning won't actually come from me. Sure, I set the foundation, but he will have teachers and babysitters and coaches and, perhaps most importantly, friends; and they'll all help shape him into the person he'll eventually become. This makes me pretty weary of the friends he decides to associate himself with, even as a toddler. I know, I'm borderline over-protective but I'm also a new mother and, as such, spend the majority of my time in a semi-scared state, making sure that my son is happy and healthy and constantly living his best life. It's a blessing and a curse, I tell you.
So, when I watch my son play with other kids at the park or the playground or some birthday party, I find myself thinking some kind of hilarious, kind of unfair, usually fleeting things that can make me feel like not only a bad mother, but a bad person. I rarely act on these thoughts, though, and I think that definitely counts for something. A mom's brain is constantly turning and, well, it's not my fault if it ends up landing on an unfair assumption. Right? Well, either way, here are a few things I, once again, assume every new mom thinks, and I definitely don't think you're a bad mom for thinking them.
"This Kid Is Going To Get My Kid Sick..."
I'm not one to look at someone and automatically assume I know anything about their physical health, but yeah, sometimes I can just look at a snot-nosed little kid and know that my kid is will be sick in the next 72 hours. Call it a gift; call it a curse; call it parenthood, but I just know.
"My Kid Would Never Do That"
When I watch my son play with friends at the playground or park, I can't lie, there are moments when I am validated in my parenting choices and tactics. I see other kids being rude or stealing toys or just being little hellions and think, "Wow, my son would never do that, he is just so perfect." Of course, this thought is short-lived as, not long after I'm basking in my own parenting brilliance, my kid starts being rude or stealing a toy or just being a little hellion. Sometimes I need to remember that kids are going to be and act like kids.
"I Totally Wish My Kid Did That"
Of course, I also watch my son play with his friends and I'm in awe of how kind and considerate and thoughtful and sweet they are. I watch a little girl look up at her mother and reach for her hand before crossing the street; I watch a little boy give up his swing, without prompt, so someone who has been waiting; I see two little boys sharing a ball, and I think, "Wow, I wish my son did that more often."
"That Kid Needs Some Manners"
I mean, come on, we all think it. If a kid is being rude (especially to my own kid) I tend to be the first to point out that someone needs to teach said kid about how to interact with people. I'm somewhat (read: a lot) protective and that innate protective urge can trump the very real fact that kids are kids and want what they want and manners take time to learn (I mean, there are some adults that aren't even there yet).
"Yeah, My Kid Is Cuter..."
We all think it, I'm just sayin' it.
"I Can't Believe That Kid's Parents Let Him Do That..."
Everyone parents differently and I'm not one to go point to a parent and promptly highlight all the ways in which my new-mom mind thinks they're doings something wrong. And, honestly, because I've only been a mother for two years, I'm still deathly afraid of a lot of things other parents don't seem bothered by. I keep my kid close and I don't let him wander to far and I make sure that he stays away from the majority of the things that could potentially hurt him. Sometimes, I look at other kids and how they're behaving and think, "Wow, I would never let my kid do that." I have a feeling, in the not-so-distant future, some new mom is going to be looking at my kid and thinking the exact same thing.
"I Need To Ask That Kid's Parents How They Do That One Parenting Thing"
I'm still learning, and while I'm not the biggest fan of unsolicited advice, I am all for learning from other parents. When I watch my kid play with his friends, I make sure to observe what those kids are doing and how those kid's parents interact and set boundaries and make rules. Sometimes I disagree, but sometimes I don't, and I end up learning a lot from the parents around me.
"That Kid Better Learn How To Share!"
I mean, don't you even think about taking my kid's toy without asking and don't you even consider excluding him from a game. Absolutely do not even think about it, you tiny little terror, you.
"I Am Not Above Stepping In If That Kid Gets Mean..."
I was recently at a birthday party, watching my son play with a few new friends. Two little girls were playing with balloons, and my son wandered over to them and asked them if he could play. One little girl smiled and extended a balloon in his direction, while the other emphatically yelled, "No! You're a boy and we don't play with boys!" while she took the balloon and walked in the opposite direction. I was infuriated. Like, I didn't realize how mad I would get when I saw my son being treated poorly, even if it was by a still-learning three-year-old. I stood back for a few more moments, to see how it all played out, then went over to my son and consoled him, while telling the little girls that excluding someone, especially because they're a boy or a girl, isn't nice. I'm sure my pep talk did a whole lot of nothing, but the protective mother inside of me couldn't just sit back and do nothing. Again, I'm learning.
"I'm Really Happy My Kid Has Friends To Play With"
At the end of the day, how I feel about my son's friends (as long as they're safe and not abusive towards my son, of course) doesn't necessarily matter. As long as my son is happy and feeling like he has a group of friends he can play with and enjoy being around and share toys with and make memories with, I am happy. I want him to make friends and I want him to socialize, and he can't do any of those things if I stand in the way with my adult worries and adult issues. After all, he's just a kid, playing with other kids.