I was bailed up by a school mum recently who was eager to tell me how well their darling daughter was doing in absolutely everything.
I struggled to keep my eyes from rolling like a slot machine. I forced a smile and congratulated them on having such a talented child.
But geez did I mutter and grumble afterwards. The mum didn’t mean any harm, they were just super proud, but I felt like saying bully for you.
So mean-spirited of me.
I think my rage stemmed from being viciously hormonal and also knowing their child sometimes deserves a “D” for kindness.
The reality is that the majority of kids aren’t great at everything, most are just – as my blogging friend Cathy’s notes – “solidly average”.
Cathy has written a post for Mumlyfe that discusses how it’s perfectly fine for children and parents to be average, because we can’t all be stars.
She writes: “Take heart, there are still loads of kids who don’t get an award. Ever.”
I’ve rarely been required to attend presentation day. Although my heart did burst with pride when the eldest came first in art one year.
The report cards my kids receive are usually unremarkable. Sometimes they are quite remarkable, but not in a go you way, more in a oh geez vein.
And while I got starry-eyed over the youngest receiving a gold medal for skipping a few years ago, the latest netball season was a bust – pretty much every E grade game ended in defeat aside from an exhilarating win on the last match of their short season.
(I really loved watching her play though, she put everything into each game and was such a dynamic, safe, assured pair of hands.)
Cathy adds: “We need to stop beating ourselves up if we can’t do everything other people can with their kids, or that our kids can’t do everything other kids can do. Often, the things that matter most are not the things our society celebrates with awards.”
For me the stuff that matters is that my kids have plenty of love and support and know I’m proud of the accomplishments they strive for that don’t result in medals.
We have a bit of work to do in the striving department. I’m in danger of going completely deranged if one of my children tells me again that they’ve forgotten to do an assignment and will need to stay up until midnight to (start and) finish it.
And there are a few too many “could try harder” comments on both their report cards.
But, when I gaze at them at the dinner table each night, I can’t quite believe I’ve brought two such glorious creatures into the world.
I also can’t quite believe I’ve brought two such gloriously lazy creatures into the world. They spend a lot of time doing nothing when they should be doing something to get themselves somewhere.
I don’t understand it because I was super driven at school. I wanted those book prizes so badly. And I was incredibly determined to make my mark in journalism once I left school.
I was lucky enough – and worked hard enough – to make my dream come true and achieve just about everything I set out to do in my career.
But it didn’t satisfy me. I’m destined to be one of those people who will always feel that they could have, should have done better.
I constantly measure myself against the success of others and find myself wanting, despite knowing deep down that I don’t really desire what they’re doing.
It’s a pointlessly unfulfilling exercise.
The truth is that I actually want to be loved and kind and not the type of person whose eyes go hard and glittery when bombarded with the success of other people’s children.
Working on it.
Could take a while.
Sometimes it feels so relentless being at the coal face with children who spend more time in waiting Roman and watching youtube videos than studying for exams.
I often find myself questioning whether my parenting skills are up to scratch.
Am I a “solidly average” parent or a too-soft, flawed one? Even the youngest says I’m too easy on the eldest.
My heart is in the right place, even if my head isn’t.
What I want for my children is to grow into adults who are happy more than they are sad, have a job they enjoy, find love and not have to struggle too hard to make ends meet.
I hope I’m supporting them on their journey towards achieving those things.
Song of the day: Sly and the Family Stone “Take you higher”