Friday, May 15, 2009
My mom was reminiscing with me over the phone today about what I remembered from my childhood and reminding me of all the little affectionate times spent with my dad and her. I had to say that I could remember very little of actual occasions of my childhood as such is the nature of memories. I could remember more of the content of my years from about 10 to 12 years old onwards. She seemed a bit disappointed that I could not remember more of the actual loving times that my parents and my siblings and I had spent together but I comforted her with the thought that all of those loving times went into the feeling that I grew up with that I was wanted and loved. The collective impact of all that love went into making me the person and parent I am today. It is hard for a parent to realise that specifics of all the quality time we spend with our children from day to day will become a blur to our children (and to us probably) as we all grow older. But the important thing to remember is that our children will grow up as well-rounded and loving adults as a direct result of all that love.
We had both been watching an Oprah show about a little girl who from the time she was a baby had been neglected by her mother. She hadn't been taught how to eat, wasn't toilet trained and couldn't eat properly and by the time she was adopted by a loving couple, she was basically a 2-3 year old child in the body of a 10 year old girl. The experts appearing on the show had examples of brain scans of a child who had grown up in a loving family and had a normal healthy brain and a neglected child including the brain scan of a child who had grown up in an orphanage of an Eastern bloc country and who was actually brain damaged from neglect. The connections of the brain had died from not receiving the necessary stimulation of daily contact with a loving caregiver. It was amazing and heartbreaking to see what this avoidable neglect had done to innocent children.
I was watching the programme with Bradley and took the time to explain to him what had happened to the little girl featured in the programme. He was a bit shocked at what he saw but I think learnt something about how important the teaching and nurturing and attention is that a parent gives to a child. As he becomes a teenager, he continually balks at parental guidance but I am still teaching my teens about life and how to handle it. Even Dael and I have our little talks late at night when he returns from work about his frustrations and his anger. Our teaching as parents never quite ends although as our children get older, we leave them room to rely on their own judgement a little more each day. Trust in your task as a parent and know that you REALLY ARE doing the best you can for your child.