Saturday, March 7, 2015

How Toddlers & Tiaras Changed My Life

I admit it. I have watched the show Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC long ago when I couldn't find anything else to watch on television. If you haven't seen the show, it features toddler and preschool age children doing beauty pageants. Moms are a big part of the show demonstrating how they prepare the child for the contests.

The money and energy the moms spent on these children! Living rooms were transformed into practice stages as the moms coached their children for the big day. I was surprised when I watched mothers give their small children sugar and soda so their tired child could have energy on the stage to perform. I shook my head when moms said their children loved the pageants and the pageants were teaching them valuable life skills when clearly the pageants seemed to fulfill something in the mother too. And if the child didn't place well in the competition or made a mistake, then the mom was mad.

As I watch the small children getting spray tans, putting in false teeth, getting beauty treatments, and other madness I declared, "Even if I did have a child who could do pageants, I would never subject them to such a thing!!"

And then it happened...a God moment....when you learn something about yourself out of no where. I felt God tell me that I was indeed that parent.

"How?" I asked. Jaycee isn't in pageants or any kind of competitions.

Then clarity: Many times, I have subjected Jaycee to private therapy for additional physical or occupational therapy to address her delays related to her Down syndrome and low muscle. I told myself it was for Jaycee's betterment. But, it could be argued that it was for my benefit too. Let's face it, if she learned a new skill it would ultimately help me as well. For instance, one year I took her to private occupational therapy for months driving an hour one way so my 3 year old could learn to feed herself. Her fine motor skills were a struggle. Feeding herself would be good for her but I could also finally eat with Jaycee at the same time.

There were things Jaycee liked in private therapy but there were certainly things she didn't like. If she had a good day in therapy, I bragged on her. If it was a struggle, I would sometimes get mad that I had wasted time and money for her to do this all for nothing. Yikes! Maybe I wasn't a pageant mom but instead I was a crazy therapy mom!

I would practice the assigned therapy homework with Jaycee during the week cluttering my house with balls, a trampoline, and other equipment. I begged her to do these exercises and drove us both crazy as I tried to motivate her to do things that would help improve her life. Gosh! I was the person I said I wouldn't be!

What a reality check from this reality show!

The past few years I have looked at possible extracurricular activities through these questions:
-Will Jaycee truly enjoy it?
-What is my motivation for doing this?
-What this bring joy or stress to our relationship?

In the end, this show reminded me of the mom I wanted to be.

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