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Making Nice


Son the younger’s preschool didn’t quite work out, so he’s on vacation until we try again in the fall. What this means is what I’ve been trying to avoid all along: I’ll have to be nice.
Misanthrope and mommy are two words that just don’t go together. Son the younger does need playmates, and since at two he doesn’t quite know how to make phone calls and set up playdates or even get to the park himself (although now that I think of it, maybe he does and I’m just holding him back), I the mommy have to step in. (When son the elder was a baby I was lucky. We found a playgroup, serendipitously and somewhat pathetically, thanks to my parents. They, friendly people that they are, were pushing the stroller in our new neighborhood one day and picked up a mommy for me, and then I did manage to take it from there.)
There’s lots of things mommies (and daddies of course have their own stereotypes) are supposed to be: nice and friendly, even outgoing, at least if the kid wants some friends. When sand toys come out at the playground, it’s gotta be “share, share, share,” not “hoard away, kid,” even though, Enron guys’ recent comeuppance aside, selfishness seems like a pretty successful adaptive trait nowadays. And “hit them before they hit you,” just is not going to cut it, despite its foreign policy use.
Unstated expectations pervade the mom image: Pregnancy books never bother to warn against unprotected sex with strangers. Mommybloggers who use curse words are playing against type.
Someone even thought it was newsworthy recently that not all mommy animals have what humans think of as a maternal instinct. (In other stereotype-busting news the seahorse always gets trotted out because it’s the daddy seahorse that gives birth. As if this odd sea creature might make people consider variations in human parenting roles. “Gee, think about the seahorse. Maybe we should offer paternity leave.”)
Obviously it’s good for mothers to be friendly and promote positive traits in their kids, and do much of the other good stuff you hope for from mothers. (And how wonderful that kids can help their parents be better in certain ways.) It’s good, just don’t take it for granted, OK?

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 4:26 PM | Permalink

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