I have parental guilt.
I cuddle you close and look down at you as you lie sleeping next to me. You crept into mine and Daddy’s bed at 5am and snuggled down between and settled off to sleep almost immediately. I look down at you and want so much for you, for you to be happy, to have good friends, to not have to worry about money and to enjoy life.
I try so hard but I worry it’s not enough. I sit down while you read me your stories and you try SO hard. Each word has to be sounded out and it’s so hard for you, but you persevere. I worry I don’t sit with you enough. That we don’t practise maths every day – that you haven’t mastered your times tables and I’m wondering if it’s because I haven’t helped you enough.
When we walk to school, hand in hand we look for the nests in the trees and decide what sort of birds might have built them, we look for the different toadstools in the grass, we hear the birds singing and stroke the cats that brush our legs. But I worry. Should I be lecturing you about stranger danger instead? We talk about not talking to strangers, about why you can’t get into anyone else’s cars; I tell you so you know I’m serious, but I don’t want to take away your joy, make you fearful. Instead of naming the birds as we walk, should we be reciting multiplication tables? Naming capital cities instead of looking at the world around us?
I worry I’m letting you down by not making you sit still for hours in the evening doing homework and working from the study guides. Instead we play games or make banana cookies or watch TV. Or you play on the Kindle while I make tea or answer emails. Maybe you should be doing maths games instead of watching Ninja Turtles.
You came home from school yesterday and told me matter of factly that everyone laughed at you in PE because you had “boy shorts on”. You were SO proud when you got the shorts as they are running shorts that you hugged them. Now they’ve been spoiled by the laughter of others. Your special running shorts. I could cry for you. Did I order the wrong ones?
I worry about the stories of children crying in the playground, worried it’s you. I ask questions about your teachers, hoping that they’re kind as well as didactic, that they give hugs when you’re sad. But only the right ones of course. I worry that your friends don’t play nicely.
But one thing I don’t worry about? About loving you. You’re very, very loved. From the moment I saw you on the scan, knew you were real, my little girl, I’ve loved you.
And I’ve ordered some flowers that I can sew onto your boy shorts.