You know that phrase, Tiger Mom? Well, I am not a Tiger Mom. I mean, I obviously want my kids to do well and I’ll support them with every beat of my heart and make sure that they have as many opportunities as possible, but will I beat them over the head with guilt and discipline if they don’t spend three hours a day practising the French Horn? Probably not.
It doesn’t surprise me, however, that Tiger Moms exist because, quite simply we are a Tiger Society. This Tiger Society is assessing our kids from the very moment that they step out of the womb and it piling on the pressure when it comes to raising small humans. Why we are succumbing to this obsession with comparison I have no idea but it needs to stop here. I’m only sixteen months into this parenting lark and I’m SHOCKED at the stuff that’s going on.
The Small has been in nursery for about three months. She is loving it. She goes once a week so that I can fit my self-employed working week into the space of a day (who knew THAT was possible) and she is thriving. I adore her nursery. The girls that work there are awesome and they work tirelessly to not just keep other people’s kids alive, but to actually help them learn, develop and enjoy themselves. This is all great. What follows is not, in any way, a criticism of them.
The other day, I was invited to take part in a Parent’s Evening. No. Really. I figured it would be a quick catch up on the various finger-painting masterpieces she’s created, perhaps a note on the amount of mud she’s generally eating in the playground and how well she listens when they ask her not to poke other children in the eye. You know, the usual stuff.
Except it wasn’t.
It was a real-life parent’s evening where they showed me an incredibly long list of Assessment Objectives and then referred me to her report which was two sides of A4 TYPED! In the report they referenced her various actions (looking in a mirror, waving at people, various noises she makes) to these assessment objectives which, I kid you not, included Numeracy and Literacy and concluded that she was doing pretty well…except for the fact that we could encourage her to use a spoon more proficiently.
I. Couldn’t. Even. Speak.
These are wonderful girls working in this nursery and I couldn’t help but think that their time and energy would be so much better spent inventing cool games to play with toddlers, or creating wicked crafty stuff for them to do. Does it make me a terrible parent that I couldn’t give a smaller fuck whether she is hitting various assessment objectives…because she’s SIXTEEN MONTHS old!?
Firstly, when I pick The Small up from nursery I expect her to be alive. That’s a given. I also expect her to be knackered because she’s been running around and chewing on play-dough and trying to not poke other children in the eye. I also expect her to be filthy. If she isn’t then I’m thinking they’re not doing enough with her. But basically, I just want her to enjoy it. I want the girls who are looking after her to have nothing on their mind except how the babies are feeling, what they can do to make them smile and how they can make them feel loved even if M&D are not there.
What I don’t like the idea of is these amazing girls taking their eye of these Small balls to write up ten-minute observations, to work out activities based on an arbitrary list of assessment objective that some Gove-shaped douchebag worked out somewhere in Westminster.
These are Small toddling babies that don’t know their arse from their elbow. Literally. There is so much time for their little heads to be worried about assessment and as parents, we only get a handful of years before the school-mongering starts so please, whoever is responsible for making nurseries do this ridiculous assessment…please, please stop.
Thank you. That is all.