It’s Saturday afternoon, sunny and warm for a change. I look at my son playing cheerfully in the garden.

“Come on Daddy”, inviting his dad to go and play with him at the water play table. Then he shouts “No Bruno, wait” because he wants to steal the ball from one dog, just to throw it to the other one with an high pitch “Maya catch”. “Mama look, showers!”, he means flowers of course, I cannot see any so he probably just wants to catch my attention.

It’s such a blissful moment, one of this moment that I will remember. So perfectly beautiful. I’m looking at Ben and Diego smiling, playing together, and then my mind wonders off…

There is so much that gets in the way, and all those other matters sometimes seem to take over my whole life. Sometimes I just forget to stop and enjoy the moment.

Expectations: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case”.

My world is full of expectations. Society, friends, family, school…. Everyone seems to know better than I do, and expects something from me and my family. For Ben there is even more pressure to achieve: milestones, development, school, comparison charts…

He’s a clever little boy, funny and well behaved (most days at least). It’s amazing to just look at what he learns every day, new small skills and big ones. To see his potential realising. Still, everyone is asking more from him, and indirectly from us, his parents.

Ben recognises every letter of the alphabet, he can “sing” them in the right order, he’s even starting spelling short words. Is it not enough for a 2 years old? Obviously not. The head-teacher of his preschool, who I hoped had a little more experience with children than the average person, scolded us because we didn’t teach Ben the phonetic alphabet. By the way, such a great idea this phonetic alphabet. It’s teaching my son how to stammer (a-a-a-a apple).

Ben uses quite an extensive vocabulary, can switch between English and Italian with ease, and he’s now starting to formulate short sentences in both languages. Is that enough? Obviously not. My mum, Ben’s Grandma, with years of experience as a speech and language therapist, asked me why we didn’t teach Ben some specific sounds of the Italian language like “gli”, “a proper r”, and “gne”. Because being able to say “bolognese” like a true Italian it’s gonna take him places!

Then there’s Grandpa who insists that Ben will get used not to sleep all day so that he can attend preschool, because “everyone else does it”. Ben is 2, he needs his afternoon nap to be able to recharge and reset himself. Sure if I keep him up playing all day he will, but that’s not necessary the right thing to do. Every other child might be able to cope with lack of sleep, but for Ben is very stressful, and would trigger big meltdowns. Should I wait one more year before sending him to school? Obviously not, he will learn to cope. Note to self: redirect any call from the school to Grandpa’s phone.

Looking at my boys having fun in the garden, I just wonder: what if we let go of all these expectations and just live, each moment and each second without thinking at what “normal” society dictates you should do, and just be glad of these precious little moments.

My son is determined, articulate, playful, and he’s most of all a very happy boy. He’s not perfect, he’s not always easy to be with. He has big meltdowns, tantrums, aggressive outbursts, and he fixates on things at times. But he’s achieving so much more than I would have thought possible at his age, and I’m so very proud of him! Shouldn’t everybody else?

If only people would stop preaching. I’m always happy to listen to someone else’s expert advice, but not when it’s presented as a list of demands.

Who has taught Ben to say “Pardon me” in a lovely embarrassed tone every time he burps? Who has taught him to complete a 36 pieces floor puzzle? Who taught him to walk holding hands? Eat by himself? Please and thank you? Tidying up his room? Saying sorry when he messes up? Are we really such bad parents?

Obviously not.

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