Victoria is 11 but sometimes I forget she’s not 17 or so. Or maybe 34. Victoria was one of those babies that people always said had an old soul.
Look! At one day old, she was already deep in thought.
Over the years, we haven’t parented Victoria (or any of the kids) in a strictly mainstream way. I’ve never been that big of a fan of mainstream things, and when it came to parenting I preferred to follow my heart. I also followed the advice of lots of other mothers I admired and read an awful lot of books, but I picked books that followed my heart too.
Along the way, I got a lot of advice that I didn’t ask for, and I pretty much ignored every bit.
Somehow, despite my parenting all wrong as far as at least a few relatives were concerned, she completely skipped any terrible two’s, did learn to fall asleep in her own bed, did not in fact test her boundaries and has pretty much been a terrific kid every day of her life.
Best of all, I thoroughly enjoy being her mother. We sit and have long talks. We teach each other things (she’s already way better than I am at anything computer related). We crack jokes. She reads my blogs and asks my advice.
And yes, I give her chores and math problems (we homeschool) and have some rules that she’s not entirely fond of, but she has a say in all of that too and she doesn’t seem to mind any of it too terribly (other than the math problems).
Tonight we sat and read through an heirloom seed catalog from 2005 together. We read some of the cool stories of the plant varieties and I talked about what qualities to look for in plants for our area and we made plans for summer gardens.
Almost every night, we have talks like that. I love them.
People tell you all the time that you should parent this way or that way or some dire thing will happen. People care an awful lot about how other people parent, I have to say.
I think the biggest parenting lesson I learned from Victoria is that there’s a direct correlation between how much time you spend just hanging out and enjoying your child, and how great your child will turn out. Not just being around each other, but really talking and connecting.
And that it’s always a good idea to follow your heart.
Or it could be that she just has a great head on her shoulder.
And yes, I thoroughly enjoy the other 3 children too, but that’s another post for another day (and I don’t have pictures of them with snowball heads on their shoulders).