A few weeks ago, my daughter wanted to play “teaching children to talk”! She had one of her teddies and said that he couldn’t talk and what could we do. I suggested teaching him to sign, but she said “don’t be silly mummy. Get my doctor’s set and I’ll give him some medicine!” If she is ever able to develop this medicine, we’ll bottle it and make ourselves a fortune! I only wish it were possible!
It was a sweet and amusing moment, but it also got me thinking about how children, as they get older, start to try to make sense of what mummy and daddy do while they’re at work. I guess a lot of children probably play at doing their parents’ jobs! Mind you, my dad is an engineer and I don’t remember ever pretending to do that when I was a child! I don’t think I really had any idea of what that meant though (I’m still not sure I have too much idea!)
I also started to think about how, for each of us, what we do for a living probably affects how we are as a parent. So here, to celebrate Mother’s Day yesterday, are some thoughts about how you know you’re a parent and a speech and language therapist when….
- Your child has admitted defeat and realises that most of the games in the house are yours not theirs. They are allowed to play with them sometimes but they have to share them with every child on your caseload.
- Similarly, you eye up their birthday and Christmas presents to see if you can find any use for them in therapy! You regularly ask your child if you can borrow their toys and books.
- When you’re multi-tasking and only half-listening to what your child is telling you, they say “Look at me so I know you’re listening, mummy”. When she was really small, my daughter used to physically turn my head to make me give her eye contact! I didn’t do that to her, in case you’re wondering, but she’d clearly picked up that I thought eye contact was important!
- Your child takes dummies out of other children’s mouths! When Alice was around 1, she used to make a beeline for another child at the childminder’s house whenever she was asleep and try to take her dummy out of her mouth! Obviously, I told her not to do this, but I did find it slightly ironic, since I do sometimes suggest that people try to remove their child’s dummy (after the age of 1 that is – Alice had one too in the early days!)
- You try every new assessment or therapy activity out on your child so their language skills are assessed to death!
On a more serious note, I do try to talk to my daughter about what I do for a living, and I will continue to do this as she gets older. I hope that this will help her to have an awareness that we are all different, and to see everyone as being equal, with or without any kind of disability. We talk about how we all find different things difficult and that that’s ok.
I hope that despite having a mother who is always stealing (I mean, borrowing!) her toys, Alice grows up to be a caring and considerate person. She is beginning to develop her own interests and it will be really interesting to see what she chooses to do for a living, and how she views the world, when she’s an adult.
What do you do for a living and how does it affect the way you are as a parent?