Move over, Ladies Who Lunch – here’s Mummies* Who Lunch… (Figure of speech, no disrespect meant to Daddies…)
No-brainer alert: Parenting’s hard. You’d think it’s the baby phase that’s tough (it is, in a different way) but as you fast approach tween-hood, it starts to get hard (again) for a different reason. And so the Unspoken Covenant Between Like-Minded Mummies states that Thou Shalt Do Thou Best When Faceth With A Kid Not Thou Ownst Because Of Karma. Parenting has such high stakes you hope someday if it is your kid another person is in the position to do something for, they will do their best not to turn your kid to a lifetime of crime.
You guys might have noticed there have been fewer Rockstarisms recently. It’s because the wisecracks have started to get…… not cute. Instead of Zippety The Imaginary Friend and Caning Is Something Only Aliens Do, tween hood with the serious ‘tude seems to occasionally rear its head early, nowadays. (I blame social media and the internet in part.) But no, it’s not all one-directional – think the emotional equivalent of Ant Man Shrinking And Reverse-Shrinking. And then think about your own equilibrium as you watch a small-for-his-age 7.5 year old say things you would expect more from a gum-chewing, backward-baseball-cap-wearing, Instagram-and-Facebook-posting teenager. Except next minute, he’s a little kid again, with little kid needs. <blinks> The yo-yo-ing can be very disorienting.
With Youtube and Google come not only annoying little words and phrases that you have to keep undoing as they surface, but the larger “epiphany” that parents really don’t know everything – and possibly they even know nothing.
One mum friend whose husband was a brilliant scholar told how he described at age 14 thinking he was smarter than all his teachers, and so flaffed about managing to do passingly well on relatively little effort and a lot of attitude (he woke up in college because he realised there were loads of really smart people around him). Anyway therein lies another Malcolm Gladwell-esque “strength”-that-carries-underestimated-”weaknesses”: Smarts do not necessarily equal corresponding maturity, but they often come with a more-than-healthy-sized ego. I like to dub that Tortoise and Hare Syndrome. Guess who succeeds in the end?
Can you imagine how far the hare who doesn’t have an ego would go?
Ergo, Mummies Who Lunch (Or have dinner. As in, around crazy summer-improvement schedules you still have to eat).
(This one’s Rockstar horsing around at dinner with one of his oldest friends from Kindergarten – who just braved a week directly in Minecraft Coding II alongside him, without going through any of the prior courses, not even MC Coding I… He’d missed when Rockstar was doing the earlier week and dove right into the second week so they could be in class together. Was a little worried, and so I told Rockstar after he had completed his own tasks he was to glance at whether his friend was able to keep up and help his friend first before any other kids, if suits. After the first couple days however, Rockstar said he stopped glancing over because his friend was always fine :)
Then a few days ago I practically had to call in the
marines Mummy Reinforcements For When Your Child Is Having An All You Do Is Nag, Mu-umm, And Uh, You’re Not Even Right All The Time Moment. Because there will come a time when your child will think you are the only mum in the world who doesn’t let him snark at you, mouth off about someone else within earshot, stand on a table with a freaking loud hailer, think the daredevil teens on Instagram who climb crazy high scaffolding egged on by a gadzillion strangers “following” their account are so cool, or simply immerse himself completely in tech when you’re trying to talk to him. In other words, we got invited to lunch You try to do these because just as it’s erm, “damaging” to your parenting for your child to see an ill-mannered child they might otherwise look up to (usually cos they’re a little older) getting away with it, the flip side is true. In this case, I currently owe one to a bunch of mummies of slightly older children.
“Summer-improvements” that so many of us are looking at arguably shouldn’t just be about the academics (as in, So Your Kid Is Weak At English. Do you ”just“ send them to English tuition or do you instead try to make them not hate English? Because if they don’t hate it they’re going to do a lot better at it even without as much tuition (think To Kumon Or To Mickey, and the very-popular-among-non-English-speakers drama classes)… got that from my own huge difference in energy and productivity levels when I was motivated, compared to when I was not. It makes me crave the energy boost I get and want to find motivation wherever I can – for everything #energyjunkiesunite!)
Anyway. Back to Mummies Who Lunch during which Rockstar got in trouble for letting “What the heck” slip out. One of my friends raised her eyebrows at me and said, “You’re going to let him say that?” (It’s true, her own boy is super-proper.) Me, uh…. I was on a Pick Your Battles day? <ducks head> Some days the kids are awesome, some days it’s like everything you say to them starts with a heavily emphasised “DON’T -” and they stop listening after the first word)… And so it was collectively agreed that “What the -” was about as acceptable as it was going to get (What? Rockstar is 7.5. And anyway there were several little girls there who were happily entertaining themselves with a set of coloured stamps and markers and papers who, needless to say, didn’t have this problem at all either… )
In this case, after a comparison of Minecraft Builds with a couple “Upperclassmen” – very well-mannered boys who are two years older and who don’t get to mouth off…..
…Rockstar and I have the following conversation:
Me: So, do you like (Friend 1) and (Friend 2)?
Rockstar: Yeah, they’re nice!
Me: Well, you’re the youngest – do they mouth off at you?
Rockstar: No, they don’t, they’re nice to me.
Me: Are they kids you’d want to be friends with?
Rockstar: <like I’m stupid> Uh, ye-ah.
Me: D’you think you’d like them as much if they were snarky or made wisecracks about you? You’d be the most likely one to get it, you’re the youngest of the three. And d’you think you’d have enjoyed lunch then?
Rockstar: No, no way.
(You guys can see it coming, can’t you?)
Me: D’you think their mums ever had to nag or correct them in order for them to turn out so nice?
Rockstar: <SILENCE><Mild irritation and sullenness>
Me: Walked right into that, didn’t ya.
Rockstar: <Groans><grudgingly acknowledges>
Thank you, Mummies Who Lunch <Mentos smile with thumbs up> And oh yes, the Miss has whiskers below while she’s eating home-made fig cake made with less sugar that one of the other mummies brought (hah! that’s another one – I shall have to wait another lifetime before I bake anything :D) It was that or turn around and find, what with all the tantalising markers, that she’s drawn herself a beard or something. That’s happened twice so far – she’s gone to school once with a green beard and another time with a black one.
The Dashing “You’re Welcome” Eyebrow Raise :D
(Oh, and earlier we had another interesting one – Rockstar has another friend who immediately gets off the sofa with his crackers when his mum gently says, “I don’t want any crumbs there,” and while we were all marvelling at how she appeared to have got him to do it after only the one phrase above, one of Rockstar’s Upperclassmen friends raises his eyebrows and says, “Maybe they had (Bluetooth) earpieces on.” A-ha! So you concede without scolding or repeated nagging you guys don’t move it? Is there no more effective way without scolding or repeated nagging? Tell us please, we will do it. <mutters> “Forget I said anything.”
* The use of “Mummies,” where “Ma-ma” is the apparent fashionably-preferred moniker is a deliberate nod to the “dial down” quite a few mums I know, who used to be very serious about their careers, take when they have young children. When I was pregnant with Rockstar, the boss who hired me at Standard Chartered (and who had quit a career in an extremely aggressive investment bank for 4 years to raise two girls born barely a year apart – the elder would go on to top the local Hong Kong public exams while the younger would come very close – and they would enjoy it (so yes, she is one of my biggest parenting role models)) said, “I know what will happen to (your outlook) when your baby comes (.” Sure, she knew, but back then I didn’t. All I knew was that my job and career were almost all-consuming – I went to bed at night praying to kick butt in the dealing room the next day. I don’t remember ever praying for children. I simply assumed after I had Rockstar things would go right back to the way they were.
My then-”Mummy Boss” was right. (It by no means changed her expectations in terms of emailing me at midnight and expecting a response by 8am the next day – in fact she was also uniquely aware that I would be in even more of a position to respond by 8am because I would either be up feeding a baby or up say, 90minutes early to express milk before coming in – either way I could “easily” check my berry. She got the latter right – being hooked to the pump also meant I probably had nothing better to do but check my berry And it’s definitely true that parenting the rockstars increased my stamina like no other. See, little children do not follow office hours. But their need when it arises at the most unexpected times and the way they draw on your energy can be in a far more demanding way than your most demanding boss (who is still a grownup and not about to roll on the floor and kick and scream after a long day climbing up and down obstacles at Funzone))
What forever changed when I came back to work were my priorities. This is for the umpteen Mummies who become content with greatly dialling down other areas like a career (sometimes by necessity) for a time, so as to be there for little children.
Rockstar’s Friend Who Doesn’t Leave Crumbs On Sofa has a mum with a Phd in either social or political sciences (maybe both, I can’t remember exactly because she also talks rapidly about her field – she teaches online for an American university out of Hong Kong, and once observed, “The number of former career women who are now using their former “skills” to instead chase after young children…….. if someone ever found a way to still make use of all that brain power………!” I found out only very recently that one of the Miss’ closest friends whose Mummy goes to pilates every day and picks him up in her workout clothes… hailed from Harvard and was (I think) a capital markets lawyer back in London.
See, you don’t check your brain at the door on the way in to the restaurant. You simply realise you were born female, which means you’re the one who has to carry a child if you want one, and if you do then you have some responsibility to really be there for them. Hormones might play a part, who knows? For us we were so different right before and right after the children. Someone speculated it’s nature’s way – the hormones make you unable to “abandon” your child while they are still so needy. (It’s also a reason some forms of post-natal depression manifest as a huge fear of something happening to your young baby.)
And so to the slightly delicious incongruity of fussing over small children, cutting food into smaller pieces in some of the places where in another life and time you were a completely different, power-suited person.
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