"Have I already failed my kid in some way?"
Real-life stories

"Have I already failed my kid in some way?"

Last year, right around the time we were writing Prepared, I was back in California for work and had dinner with some of my favorite ladies. They were (still are even though I live in TX now) my anchor when having my two young boys; we leaned on each other for advice, playdates (both kid and mom playdates) and for laughs and humor in our toughest moments. It wasn’t long into dinner that our conversation inevitably turned to updates on our kids, and one friend shared “the fridge” story.

She often posts reminders/notes/parenting tips on her fridge for herself, except one day her older daughter went up to the fridge, read one particular note out loud, turned to mom and asked.. “What’s ____?” You can fill in the blank to any number of things we like to keep to our adult/parent selves, or don’t particularly want to explain to our kids. As you can imagine, my friend was shocked, she didn’t know her daughter could read (our kids are in Kinder/1st grade). It was a funny story, and any parent can relate. Except, in this loud restaurant, it felt like dead silence. I think we may have even dropped our forks. My friends and I started bombarding her with questions: Wait, your daughter can read already? How? My son isn’t reading, should I be worried (my question to be honest… and by the way, he still isn’t)? What do you do to get her to read? What should I do differently? You could see our collective anxiety rise.

We carry a heavy load as parents, and it feels even heavier as our kids reach school-age and parenting gets even more complex. We all have a story that is a little bit different, but I’d guess very similar in this way: What is my child not doing? What more should I be doing? And while we may not use these words, we are likely thinking and feeling …. Have I already failed my kid in some way?

Once our sixty questions waned, we more rationally said, “It’s okay; kids develop at different times.” I’m fairly certain we were saying it out loud to ourselves, as a way to calm the anxiety. But, I also know it’s one thing to say it, another to actually believe it and step even further (and harder!) to take a different action because of it.
- Mira in Austin, Texas

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