People watching and behaviour analysis are two of my favourite things. I do my best not to form judgement, but at times this is difficult. I always however, look further than the surface and question if things are as they first seem. I wonder about what other factors are contributing to the behaviour I’m observing. This often leads me into a spiral of assumptions and creation of complex narratives in my mind, and I wonder what narratives other people have composed after watching me.
I have an ideal parenting style and I do my best to live up to that. I don’t always meet my own expectations, but generally I’m pleased with the job I’m doing. I watch other people parent, and listen to them talk about their parenting and I wonder if they have considered what their ideal is and how well they think they’re achieving it. I wonder if they’re happy with the image they’re projecting to the people watchers like me. When I’m effectively executing my ideal parenting style I’m proud of the image I’m projecting. Even if the watchers aren’t. When I’m not happy with the image I’m projecting, I know I need to re-visit my ideal and focus on executing it. Sometimes I need to feel watched to make this reflection happen.
Something I’ve been reflecting on recently is how I deal with my youngest child. He’s one and a half and I feel like I am losing my patience with him, despite him being a delightful and easy-going toddler. This loss of patience is not in line with my ideal parenting and I’m not sure I’d be aware of or reflecting on this if I wasn’t being watched. There seems to be a general assumption that youngest children are babied more so than their older siblings, and I’m starting to understand why. In my people watching I notice that if parents are going to baby a child, it is usually their youngest child, or their daughter. I usually only witness the babying of a daughter if she is the only daughter. Watching daughters being babied in comparison with their brothers is something that bothers me. Seeing parents doing things for their daughters at first sign of resistance but respond to their sons with encouragement. It is so unfair and such a disadvantage.
The things my youngest does that cause me to lose patience are all age appropriate. He’s still in nappies – what a drag. He still throws his food or swats a plate or cup away when I offer him something he’s not interested in. He’s at that difficult stage of half words half gesture communication so sometimes it’s a bit of a drawn-out process of elimination to understand his wants and needs. He whinges for biscuits for breakfast every single morning and wants to eat all his meals sitting on someone’s lap rather than on his chair. Like I said, all age appropriate. However, with him I am much quicker to clean up the food he threw on the ground, give him that blasted biscuit for breakfast, or let him sit on my lap at dinner. I’m sure I do this more often than with my other children. Our nanny is at our house three mornings a week and therefore I’m being watched. I’m certain I’m not being judged. I love it that she’s there because it forces me to think about the image I’m projecting and consider if it’s in line with my ideal parenting style. When I allow the biscuit for breakfast, or let him wander the lounge room while eating his toast, or don’t make him help clean up his spilt milk, I’m aware that I’m not behaving in the way that I think is best. Some days I’m just behaving in the way that keeps me sane, but some days I’m just being lazy and am grateful that I’m being watched as it helps to keep me strong.
I hope that if I am ever caught people watching that I am a reminder to find strength, to do what you know is right, to do your best, to live your ideal and meet your own expectations.