How I prepared my daughter for life

Dear friends, the idea came to me to share with you my experience as a mother, although now I have reached a certain age (you know, 60+) and I think of my daughter as more of a friend.

But I think I used a successful recipe because I saw the daughter I wanted growing up next to me.

I had a noisy baby until the age of two months. I tried all possible options to make her sleep; I was an inexperienced paediatrician – 27 years old and almost 0 years in the profession. The degree didn’t really help: it’s one thing to know the theory and quite another to have the practice.

A tender moment between us when Anca was under one year old.

She was tireless day and night. I remember that I was sitting on the second floor in a four story building and the neighbours, desperate, were shouting at me from the stairwell: “Quiet down the child as we have to go to work in the morning!”.

She was a foodie; she could never get enough! I had to give her the maximum amount of fluids she was allowed a day and I even exceeded the amount just to keep her quiet.

I started reading and realised that one of the reasons for her agitation was that I was filling her stomach too much. So I started feeding her exactly by the book, with the amount of fluid needed for her age.

This wasn’t good either because she wasn’t satiated.

To cut the long story short, I didn’t slept a day or night for two months. I remember I couldn’t stand up either. I gave birth to her in the winter and my neighbours and I, in the spring, became exhausted.

I remember that at that time, after meals, walks and burpings, I would put her to sleep in my arms and then place her in the crib with great care. The manoeuvre lasted minutes in a row. She was sleeping. I was breathing a sigh of relief. I was walking to the door to get out of the room so I could grab some diapers, bottles, etc.

I would put my hand on the doorknob and start pressing it as slowly as I could. I was succeeding; she was sleeping. I was leaving the room. Let’s take another look. She was sleeping. Hurray, I escaped.

I started pressing the doorknob to close the door. Slowly… When the door was closed and I thought, I was saved, terror began. Desperate screams made me despair. Again and again.

You know that in the past it was used as a method of torture for an inmate to be locked in a room with a hungry baby.

This has been a difficult time in my life. Then she became a wonderful, cheerful and lively little girl. I’ve been talking to her since I brought her home from the maternity ward. In time, she became the closest person to me because she matured quickly. And I didn’t forget how to be a child myself. We basically spoke the same language.

Anca’s first Christmas

When she was a year and a half old, I went for a walk with her after a summer rain. We dressed her in a white dress and we walked among the stalls, it was a fair or something. She wanted something from there, I don’t remember what exactly. I didn’t want to buy her the item and she started screaming and threw herself in a puddle.

That was the moment when I realized that it was a “me or her” situation. We went home quickly. All the way I scolded her and explained why she was wrong to do that. I talked to her like a big woman. She understood completely and this was never repeated.

I emphasize that the modern theory in which psychologists forbid you as a parent to have in your vocabulary “no”, “you are not allowed”, “you can’t”, “it’s not beautiful”, could be good but it was not fashionable in my day.

And I see young parents applying the modern one and those children are spoiled, tiring for those around them, uneducated. I hope that in years to come, they will become strong, balanced people, as the generation I’m talking about now has come out.

It’s time for kindergarten. My hip, friendly girl, eager for the companionship, adapted immediately. In the first day, I also stayed in the area for an hour. But not in her line of sight. Just to see how she would react. Everything went smoothly. But until then I taught her to be sociable, to make friends quickly with children, to give toys to others, to donate toys to those less fortunate than us.

During one of our story time telling

All this happened over time, I connected with her on different occasions to explain what is good or what is bad when we happen to notice different situations around us.

I remember one time, when she was about three years, we visited the park. She witnessed a real scandal between two spoiled children. One did not give up a toy that the other wanted with all his might (including physical). She broke away from my hand and went to explain that it would be good to give the toy and that it was not nice to argue.

Those children were too ambitious to hear her, but their parents were surprised by my daughter’s wise reaction.

Yes, but that cost me time and energy. And what is the end result: now she is a woman who is involved in charity, who likes to settle conflicts; she hates to argue.

Us taking a selfie

Another story from kindergarten that put me in a difficult situation occurred when she was about 4 years old. It happened one day when I brought her home and I started helping her change her clothes. I noticed that in the white three-quarter length sock was placed (not to say hidden) a small red object. She didn’t want to show it to me. Of course I insisted and saw a small red object, a plastic stick. I asked for explanations.

The answer: I hid it because I was playing a game of colours and there weren’t many red sticks. I also saw red in front of my eyes. And so, the first legal education lesson began with my little girl.

Don’t think she didn’t understand. She learned a life lesson. I explained to her what happens to thieves, how sad we make God if we steal, and how beautiful it is to be honest. The next day, hand in hand with her, we went to the teacher and explained to her why she had stolen that stick.

While visiting Anca in Amsterdam

Over the years, I was her confidant, I was there when she wanted to tell me something (I took the lead here too, in the sense that I encouraged her to tell me everything, to unload, to know that I could help her when she needed it).

I was tired many times, upset, bored. But I never made it clear that I wasn’t listening to her. Although many times the stories were insignificant for her future and I thought of mine.

School has come. With emotions on our part. I wanted a child who would do everything little by little until she found her way. So I encouraged her to learn all the subjects. Her father was very fond of mathematics, but I thought that the humanities part was also important. What is the priority in knowing your language, in writing without mistakes?

So she had an aptitude for math, but I insisted on Romanian, history, etc.

Christmas party 2018

I never asked her to excel in school. She was received grades between 8 and 10 (out of 10), because I thought her free time was very important. I never scolded her for a low grade.

So we started trying different sports. Swimming, skiing, ice skating, rollerblading, cycling, horseback riding, tennis. She chose to play tennis for 7 years. Only I know how many thousands of balls I gathered from the court during the breaks during training. Only I know what a strong backhand she had when I was struck with a ball directly in my mandibular joint. I felt quite a bit of pain. She practices other sports occasionally but I am proud that she would cope anywhere if she were invited to play a sport.

I remember another situation, she was in the sixth grade at Ion Heliade Radulescu School. She was studying in the morning and I was going to pick her up at 1 p.m. When I arrived, there was no one at school, the gates were closed. We were a few lost and worried parents.

At around 1.30 p.m. my little girl was coming in a hurry from the subway to school. The explanation: the power went out at school and the principal had sent them home. They, the young teenagers, had decided to make an “expedition” to Romana (a very well known spot in Bucharest). I got mad at her and explained why it’s good for us to know where she is.

Christmas Eve 2019

One phone call was enough, I would never have objected to her going out with colleagues even if it was my first time. I explained that I let her do what she wants, provided I know where and with whom she is, and where to look for her if she would be in trouble.

I want to tell you that even now, wherever she is, she lets me know. She lives in the Netherlands with her partner and writes me just a word to let me know whenever she has reached a new destination. But also a “good night” so that we can know about each other and sleep well.

I will focus on another aspect. I wanted her to be a modern girl but also one that was in tune with fashion. We went to shops and we matched clothes. I told her why some outfits worked and others not.

Maybe you want to ask me how I knew. One that I am Aquarius and you know how the natives are about beauty. Another that I was watching fashion shows (often with her).

I even enrolled her in a modelling course. Not for any other reason but to teach her how to walk on heels, how to walk on a podium and how to put on make-up. The lesson lasted two weeks. And now she is a woman who can stay on her heels and for as long as 12 hours if needed!

I didn’t have a typical naughty teenager. I don’t think she felt the need to rebel because I let her do anything, as long as I knew. I don’t remember denying her a party, a date, or other indulgences.

When it came to choosing her high school or college, I just drove her to various high schools or colleges to make sure she liked the place she chose, from as many points of view as possible.

I was with her in disappointments in love, or in life. Not crying next to her but encouraging her and explaining why “any kick in the rear is a step forward”.

For a long time I have been her best friend and she is my best friend.

In the city of Alkmaar, in The Netherlands standing on a cheese scale

We fear for each other constantly. But we live our lives separately, we do not bother each other. We respect our ages and tastes and from time to time we embrace each other somewhere in the world.

During one of our weekend getaways, in Rome, in front of Fontana di Trevi

My friends say there is special connection between us. That’s because I listened to her. I rarely intervened. I didn’t tease her. I loved her unconditionally. I encouraged her in any madness. I did not disappoint her. I did not ask her for prizes. I let her dream.

If I were to relive my life, and had another child to raise, I would do the same things. I would say “yes” when I consider it necessary and worthwhile and I would say “no” categorically when I know it is wrong, arguing this.

Of course, it is harder now in the age of technology but the principle of “a little bit of everything” would be applicable today.

Did I do good or bad?! I don’t know. Judge for yourselves!

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