We have all probably at some point in our lives had the words, ‘I told you so’, thrown at us by someone who thought they knew better! Some people take immense pleasure that borders on the sadistic, in telling us they told us so. Others tell us so rather nonchalantly. I have been told so in my life and fortunately it’s been in a caring manner. However, I haven’t been told so lots of times because when it comes to serious issues that perhaps a ‘I told you so’ warrants, I have sought advice in the first instance.
When I was pregnant, many years ago, as many young mums to be do, I daydreamed about how I would bring my child up. How wonderful my child would be. The places I would take her to. The manners she would have. The books she would read. The instruments she would play. The perfect marriage she would have. I dreamed all this and I wished all this and I was determined all this would happen for my little girl. I knew how to do it! I would be the best parent in the world. The Virgin Mary herself would have close competition now I had conceived!
After nine months of constant sickness and feeling grim I was very fortunate to have a very quick and easy labour. I held my little baby girl and thought, ‘shit’! What the heck and how the heck do I do it now! Whilst she was safely tucked up in my womb I had it all sussed out! I was a brilliant parent! In that nine month long daydream it was perfect and she turned out to be the main asset to the world! She sorted out terrorism, world poverty, diseases, you name it my perfect child did it. All due to, of course, my spectacular parenting skills. Oh yes!
My mum came to me very shortly after I’d given birth. She appeared with an arm full of terry nappies and assured me these were best. A little more bother but better for baby and more eco-friendly and cheaper. I didn’t question her. She knew. There are many more incidents over the years where my mother and father gave me advice and I took it without question. Advice concerning my child. A child isn’t a gamble. We can’t take wagers over anything that concerns a child.
I listened to them and I took their advice not only because they were older and wiser but because they have brought up children. They have spent many years working with children and are fully aware of the whole amalgam of issues regarding children. As a parent, an Aunty, Godmother, Great Aunt and many years of being a teacher, I have gained a lot of knowledge. Throughout my years as a young mum there were issues I had to address with my girl. I always listened to people because my girl was and is far too important for pride to get in the way of what is best for her. When she went through some difficult phases (Goodness knows why) I listened to my parents, my cousins and her teachers. I was never going to take the risk of anyone saying to me at a later time; “I told you so”.
Sadness is too weak a word to use when I speak to some parents and the words, ‘I told you so’ are on the tip of my tongue. The parents who have fiercely defended their child in Year 7. The parents who have been adamant that I pick on their child. The parents I have at times lost patience with and said; “You’re not doing her any favours defending her like this”. To which they have complained about me or have simply continued to support their child in this belief that I’m unreasonable. I have a mixture of anger, despair and abject misery when these same parents speak to me a couple of Year groups later and ask for help. When they tell me how difficult the child is being at home. How uncooperative the child is in all lessons. They defended their child from authority and it bites back.
Please God give all parents an innate capacity to listen to those who have seen and heard it all. I can’t begin to count how many children I have taught over the years; how many issues I have dealt with. My own child didn’t turn out to be this wonderful Metahuman. Why? Because none of us are. I took advice even at times when I wasn’t totally convinced but I knew the people giving me advice had much knowledge and experience and she is doing just fine.
It is heartbreaking that as every September approaches, a new intake arrives and the same old cycle begins and teachers across the world know that the time will come again and our souls will be haunted with the words; ‘I told you so’.