Practice child | Living with Gleigh

All the important events I had planned happened before the snow hit last weekend. I had a mini-reunion at my house with my college classmates. We studied in Austria together 30 years ago and in some cases we hadn’t seen each other for 25 or 30 years.

We got together at my house at 4:00pm Saturday, the snow hit about 6:00pm. Perhaps it was cut short because the women wanted to get home before the roads got too bad, but the point is, the reunion didn’t get cancelled because of snow.

However, the most notable event of the weekend was my youngest daughter took and passed her driver’s test early Saturday afternoon. I was so proud of her and pleased for her.

With several of my college friends visiting, there were more people to congratulate her. It was a déjà vu moment for me, but not the one you’d think I would have: namely when her older sister passed her drive test, rather it was when her older sister was newly potty trained.

Funny how these things come to us during situational occasions. I was having a Pampered Chef party the day my oldest daughter got to wear her “big girl panties.” She was very proud of herself and pretty much walked around with her little skirt lifted up so we would all be reminded of her achievement.

My oldest daughter was one of these children who expected applause every time she successfully used the toilet, as opposed to my youngest daughter who, while sitting on the potty, would hold up her hand and yell, “Don’t say yay!”

The day I had that Pampered Chef party and my oldest was wearing her big girl panties, I was so proud of her. It was her first time, but it was my first time too. She was my first child; I had never had the gratification of helping a child through potty training before.

Thinking she’d want to show off, as she ran through the middle of the party, I stopped her. I asked her if she wanted to show everyone what she was wearing.

She chose that moment to become shy. At my urging, she did finally pull up her skirt and point out the princess she donned on her panties. My mother later chastised me, telling me I embarrassed her.

I really didn’t intend to embarrass her; she had been running around with her skirt up all day, after all. But I felt bad that perhaps I had pushed her too hard to show off her panties and that maybe the painful memory would surface someday and she’d blame me for some phobia she developed as an adult.

So it was an ironic and uncomfortable feeling for me that my youngest daughter got her license on a day I later had a living room full of friends. This time, however, I approached it without parading my daughter through the room or making her march around flaunting her test score like some twisted Vanna White. I told my friends about it when she was safely in her room out of sight; she could hear me brag, if she chose, without being embarrassed by the accolades (“Don’t say yay!”).

Later my friends congratulated her in an unobtrusive sort of way that didn’t point out my blatant flaws as a parent. I think I nailed it this time.

If I didn’t, she can add it to her therapy tab. However, she’ll have to line up behind her sister. My oldest daughter’s tab is much larger than my youngest daughter’s because she is my practice child.


Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to practicing her parenting skills (or lack thereof) every day. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.

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