I enjoy school runs. I love to listen and observe other parents while waiting for the gate to open. I’m not generally judgemental, but these occasions are something out of the ordinary, and it’s hard not to notice certain things.

I wonder sometimes what kind of parent I would have been if I didn’t adopt Ben. Would have I been one of these?

  1. The oblivious: a young mum is queuing with two kids, one about 4 years old and the other boy maybe 1, sitting in his buggy. The little one is shivering, and his feet are turning blue in the cold, while mum is talking with some other mums about the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off. The little one is now crying in distress, so young mum just rocks the buggy forwards and backwards and carries on talking about the TV show. Not once she looks at her little boy, not once she strokes him, reassure him, or put at least some socks on his cold little feet.
  2. The sociopath: a boy runs out of reception crying. He runs towards dad and, sobbing, tries to hug him seeking some comfort. Dad pushes him away and says: “I don’t have time now, go sit in the car and suck it up”.
  3. The know it all: I’m chatting outside school with red-hair-mum and back-from-the-gym-mum. Red-hair-mum is telling us his son keeps crying at school and he’s very anxious. He’s only 2 and a half, and he just started attending. Back-from-the-gym-mum offers the crowd her knowledgeable explanation, “I read of a new theory called attachment which explains that if your child cries when you leave him in a new environment, it’s because he’s attached to you. You should be proud of yourself. You’ve done a good job with your son”. And then always-late-mum adds a little bit more knowledge to that: “Studies proved that children are happy in a new place only for the first day because they don’t understand what is happening and they are curious. After that, they cry for about 3 weeks. So, it is a good sign if your son is crying while at preschool”.
  4. The privileged: a little boy under 3 years old who is in the same class as Ben keeps running out of the queue and into the street. Mum just stands there shouting ever so loud at him to come back and behave. She yells at him for about 5 minutes with no positive results, when finally she gets annoyed, “Come here, NOW”.  Even the urgency of the word NOW leaves the little boy unaffected. So mum tries the very popular taking away privileges technique, “OK, no iPad for a week”. That threat is effective: the boy comes back to mum, sits quietly in his buggy and mum gives him the iPad. This happens every single morning.

Caring for a child “from a hard place” forced me to learn new skills and attune my parenting to my boy’s needs. We do things differently from my friends’ family. It’s hard, we often get it wrong, feel overwhelmed and exhausted, but we always pick up the pieces and we try again.

My friends think of me as a sort of Mary Poppins. They think I’m eccentric when I have “time-ins” instead of “time-outs”. They believe I’m too soft when I ask my boy to try to use his kind words when asking for something. They think I’m a bit of a nuts when I ask Ben to take a deep breath and try to explain how he feels. And they definitely think I’ve lost it when, after a huge aggressive outburst, I ask Ben for a re-do.

My friends told me my way of parenting is only good with children who had a difficult start in life. I could have plenty to say to them, argue that my way of doing things could benefit some of their children too, but I just smile safe in the knowledge that adoptive parents do it better.

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  1. Lucy 16th September 2016 Reply
    • Laura Boccaleone 16th September 2016 Reply
  2. Sarah B 17th September 2016 Reply
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  3. Mama Bear 17th September 2016 Reply
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