3/31/09

Schooled By My Students

It’s a thrill to watch my kids learn and grow and master new skills. But since they are only 2.5 and 1 mo. old, those skills are along the lines of learning to ride a scooter and finding their own foot. I get a different kind of thrill from seeing my writing students succeed. And boy, do they! One just got published in the New York Times! Go, M.G.!!

There’s little that’s more gratifying than helping a writer develop her talent and confidence so she can go out into the harsh world of publishing and not only survive, but thrive. You all read/saw “The Devil Wears Prada,” right? Editors can be scary!! (Not mine, of course, should they happen to be reading. Mine are all gentle and decent people with normal-sized egos, I swear!)

I’ve come to realize that I often learn as much from my students as they learn from me. For instance, one person wrote about the struggle to potty train her son. Boy, can I relate! Reading that made me realize I’m not the only one who risks frittering away her retirement fund on Pull-Ups. (I refuse to buy them in bulk. I’m in denial. I keep thinking, “This will be the LAST pack!”) Another thoughtful essay detailed the writer’s difficult adjustment to being a stay-at-home mom. Again, I can relate!

Another essay that sticks with me is about a mom’s coming to terms with her different relationship with each of her sons. She described her first baby as cheerful and charming, while her second was solemn and reserved. She worried she was a bad mother for comparing them, and feared her first-born would always be her favorite. Ultimately, she realized she loves both boys equally, but differently. I totally get this now!

Somewhat embarrassingly, I burst into tears at the pediatrician’s office the other day, partly due to guilt over this issue. It had been a horrible morning, trying to get 2 kids to 2 different doctors’ appointments on opposite sides of town. One involved pinning my screaming 2-y.o.’s arms to his sides while forcing him to breathe asthma medication through a nebulizer. The other required pinning down my screaming newborn while he got a Hepatitis B shot.

So, anyway, our pediatrician is so nice and warm and caring. I wailed about how Miles had never been like this baby, who does nothing but cry and spit up and insist on being held 24/7. I said I felt bad for Miles and bad about myself for feeling frustrated with Riley. And you know what the doctor said? That this is completely normal.

After all, she pointed out, I have a bond with Miles. He’s been my main man for almost 3 years now. (My main man in diapers, that is.) And newborns don’t give a lot back, as needy as they are. It’s all “feed me, burp me, change me, rock me” with not even a smile in return. Admit it: if you were dating your baby, you’d dump him so fast it’d make his head spin.

The doctor also said that Miles was an unusual baby and that Riley is what most babies are like. Oh, really? That means my little handful of a first-born was actually our EASY baby, in retrospect! I don’t know if this makes me feel better or worse. The doctor also said Riley would probably outgrow some of his issues in a few months. And you know what? The other night he actually slept 4.5 hours in a row. And I swear he smiled this morning. A light at the end of the tunnel!

Besides, as my SIL made me realize the other day, it’s a little early to brand Riley the black sheep of the family and start dressing him in “Bad to the Bone” onesies. He’s only a month old, for Pete’s sake!!

Anyway … thanks, students, for teaching me while I teach you. Keep those success stories coming. Now stop reading this blog and go write something!

READS O’ THE WEEK: Famed mom blogger Dooce has a new book out. And here’s another one that’s on my wish list: Sleep Is for the Weak: The Best of the Mommybloggers Including Amalah, Finslippy, Fussy, Woulda Coulda Shoulda, Mom-101, and More!

3 comments:

April said...

OMG what a day! Sounds like you have a great doctor. Hang in there!

Joy said...

you're definitely not alone :)

Kimberly Zook said...

I swear our experiences at the doctor's offices when it is our children getting looked at are worse for us parents than those appointments used to be for us when we were kids. I am dreading scheduling my daughter's first dental appointment, and I really don't know how the dentist will be able to look in her mouth with getting a finger bit off. I hope it gets easier for you at the next appointments!

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