I am the lucky parent of a well-balanced, well-behaved, confident, clever and happy 20-year old. He was born that way.
When this amazing phenomenon was conceived, I was all but 20 years old myself. I didn’t have a clue! In fact, save for holding my cousin for a photo when I was 16, I had never touched a baby in my entire life.
Needless to mention, he was the sweetest little accident – in other words, rather unplanned.
Giving birth scared me to death so I simply went into semi-denial. I went for the odd check-up, and one day the doctor booked me into hospital for a caesarian section. I knew there’d be some “cutting” involved, and after that the pregnancy would be over. Beyond that I dared not think.
The baby they presented me with was way too large for me to comprehend that he came from my body. As far as I was considered I was still happily pregnant. It took me a day or so to get used to the idea that I was now officially a mother.
After the required 10 days in hospital (during which I was confined to a bed), the nurses gave me a quick once-over about how to disinfect the baby’s eyes and keep him presentable, and I was sent home. Bath-time came. There was no little cotton wool balls drenched in blue and yellow disinfectant in my bathroom, so I went into a panic and called Mother…
My mom calmed me down sufficiently to be able to take down these simple instructions:
• Run the baby bath half full with lukewarm water – test the water temperature with your elbow.
• Lay him down on a clean towel on a flat surface. Make sure he doesn’t fall off!
• Soap him down with a sponge and ordinary bath soap. Gently wipe his face with a damp face towel.
• Lift him carefully into the bath and splash the soap off his body. Make sure you don’t let his head go under the water!
• Do not at any time during the procedure leave him unattended!
Then she got on a plane and visited me for a week.
* * *
Once I realized that it was all just like playing with dolls… it was easy as pie!
I breastfed until mom told me it was perhaps time for some “extra” feeding. Then I gave him cows’ milk straight from the fridge. Mother had a small fit when she realized what I was doing (she didn’t give proper instructions the first time!). But of course the little one took it all in his stride…
As a toddler we built sandcastles together. As a little boy we planned elaborate birthday parties with every theme in the book. As a teenager we listened to funky music…
When he was 14, the situation at home became unbearable. His alcoholic father became violent at the drop of a hat. My son’s basic needs often went unmet. But he survived that difficult period of extreme stress with amazing resilience. When I was falling apart during the divorce, he was the one who supported and comforted me!
After the divorce I took him out of school for 2 weeks and we went to Greece. The next year I took him out of school altogether and registered him into a home schooling program. People said I was crazy…
Today he holds a Matric certificate with 5 A’s and a B. With a state bursary he got himself a Commercial Pilot’s License. More opportunities are presented all the time. His future is so bright he is wearing sunglasses!
* * *
No books… No workshops… No special knowledge on “how to bring up children”.
So how did I do it? Or was he really just born that way?
I’ll tell you the secret:
Love and respect. I treated him with respect as a child. I treated him like a little grown-up. And I remained a little bit of a child myself. Together we grew up. Together we had hardships. Together we had fun. Together we loved.
He was unplanned. Not unwanted. Not unloved.
That’s the secret.
(written by Tiamari)
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