I know it sounds so cliche but I was thinking the other day about how quickly children grow up (don’t we all?), and then it occurred to me that to a great extent, it is how much and what we expect of them.
And then I had yet another ‘West meets East’ parenting revelation….
Type ’17-month old toddler’ in to Google and you are inundated with a whole host of (very good, mostly Western) websites detailing, the milestones your child should be reaching at this age, how he/she should be walking or climbing, saying some words and then we come to the bit about self-feeding. Most of these websites will tell you, that your child can at this age feed themselves, mostly using their fingers and eating finger-food. They are also learning to grasp the use of a spoon at this age, and some will master it more quickly than others. So, in a nutshell, expect to be able to sit your child down at the dining table during mealtimes, give him/her food on a plate and while you are warned to expect mess, your child should without a doubt be able to eat independently.
Now, Georgia does perfectly fine…she has perfected the art of using her spoon. In fact, this evening she showed us she could use her spoon in both her left and her right hand. And if I keep a hawk’s watch on her and move at lightning speed to catch ‘raining’ food, there’s hardly any mess on the floor at all.
A week ago though, she went through a funny phase of only wanting to use her fingers, and sometimes she got fed-up and just sat with the baby-bird-type of open mouth waiting for food to magically appear.
This was when I had a flash-back to when I was about 5 or 6-years old, in my grandmothers house (Penang, Malaysia) playing with my cousins. We were all cleaned and washed and were being fed dinner out in the garden, which meant, we could pretend to be aeroplanes flying about and come back for food as soon as we were done chewing. By being fed, I mean either my mum or aunt had a plate of food from which they were feeding us from. And I seem to remember this happening quite often. This… in contrast to my 17-month old, feeding herself at the table consistently at every meal-time.
Do Western parenting philosophies and ideologies expect children to grow up more quickly than Eastern ways?