A mother’s expectations

Something has been weighing heavily in my mind these last few days. I try not to think about it too much but I think by confronting it and finally writing about it, I can resolve it in my heart and head.

Zayan has done me proud since the day he entered our lives. Yes, he was a high maintenance baby (cries and fusses a lot, has very specific needs to be met, etc) but he is also a very ‘interactive’ child. He loves giving hugs. He likes meeting new people and saying hello and being all around inquisitive with them. He is very advanced with his motor skills when he was a baby. He says the sweetest things sometimes.

But lately, I have done the one thing that parents shouldnt (but inevitably) do. I compare. I look at other kids and think how articulate they are. How they seem to understand fully rules, how to play a game, general social etiquette. I look at other children and am amazed at how much they can count already, how they identify letters.. all around the same age as Zayan.

I have to keep reminding myself that Zayan has always been delayed with his language skills. He didn’t start speaking until he was 2 years old – I really kid you not. He would understand what we say and understand instructions but he just wouldn’t talk. However much I repeat words, ask him to say things, NADA. And then he started speaking and he says things more and more now. But he isn’t near what (some of) his peers are. My friend, who has seen Zayan growing up, reminded me that he has gone leaps and bounds in the last few months.

I go through counting and alphabet books with him and he doesn’t seem to remember what I teach him a minute after we went through it. *sabar fiz sabar* Then, he surprises me by saying them a couple of days later. I tend to forget how much of a sponge his brain is. He may not show it to me right there and then but he has demonstrated that he is absorbing things so much. Sometimes he says words that I’m not even sure where he gets them from – for example I was explaining what Ayah’s job is (he keeps asking “Where Ayah gone?” – like multiple times in a day) and he said “Ayah work in office.” Where did he get that from???

And I keep doubting what I’m doing. Am I doing enough? Am I not teaching him enough? He likes to play pretend and re-enact movie scenes. Now this is ok, and quite funny. But it isn’t so much when we’re walking in the mall and he decides to re-enact robot scenes or Kungfu Panda scenes. With full facial emotions and arm gestures. Often stopping people in their tracks and looking bewildered (or terrified if they’re kids). I feel he is in his own world sometimes and doesn’t understand the social etiquette of not being in his own world when in public! I’ve tried telling him that he can only do this at home (“In car?” he asks. “Ok, in car too…”) but he play pretend from time to time, somewhat unable to control himself.

Don’t even get me started on him having the occasional hitting. That said, he was playing with his friend Riaz the other day and they were fighting over some cushions. He suddenly hit Riaz in the face. All the adults, myself included, were standing at the other end of the room. Riaz sat shocked and turned towards me. Before I said anything, Zayan (whose back was towards the adults) hugged and apologised. The two of them started playing together again. I could never be more proud of the two boys – Riaz for not crying and telltaling and Zayan for apologising.

Anyway, I have to stop comparing. I have to remember that he will get there eventually and he will mature eventually. It has dawned on me that I have my own expectations of my child and sometimes I just have to let it go. I’m doing my best and I will strive to give him the encouragement and resources to grow in his own time.

I love you Zayan, and I’ll try not to be too much of a Tiger Mama.

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