My B+ Attempts at Being All That

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Finding the Joy in Just Okay – When did average become so bad?

on September 6, 2014

It’s a strange world we live in as parents, as we build up our kids by enrolling them in activities to keep them fit, stretch their minds, broaden their artistic horizons and encourage them to spread their wings. And in those very activities lies a tiny yet mighty voice that tells us to encourage excellence, to demand fabulous, to expect more. And in those “motivating” messages from that tiny, mighty voice lies a seed that we plant on our kids’ hearts, that we water every time we sigh after a bad grade, that we prune with sharp shears when we ask why the chorus was out of tune, that we allow to become overtaken by weeds when we allow our own desires to override those of our kids.


 I just want the best for you.

I think in our twisted, well-meaning way, we have come to define any activity our child participates in as an opportunity to succeed, and that success has come to mean statistics, grades and scores. We have convinced each other and ourselves that pure enjoyment of an activity is not enough in and of itself because everyone else is pushing to be the best, period, rather than the best Billy or Suzie. And while I am no statistician (mom made peace with that one early on), I’m fairly certain I know enough to be able to say that there can only be one best in each category. Lots of not-quite best or “if you’re not the winner, you’re the first loser” or “close but not quite out there,” but only one best.  When you compare them to everyone else and use statistics, grades and scores.


I’m okay; my kid Is okay; stop judging me

I’m an external processor. If my inner turmoil is battling between pride in my kid and meeting others’ expectations on the field, I usually choose one of two things depending on the day and which voice is louder in my head. Well-meaning “motivating but not really” voice? Apologize for my kid’s performance. Got my priorities where they need to be? Sit in the stands and tell those other moms how proud I am of my kid for figuring out how to find the joy in an activity while not being naturally skilled in it. Step two: declare what a blessing that is. It is a blessing. And we, as parents, will realize that when we let down our guard of trying to let others convince us differently. I will be the first one to admit that it is incredibly difficult when surrounded by mini Mozarts and Steve Jobs and David Beckhams to make peace with and rejoice in the fact that we have kids who are perfect at being them, at being the very best versions of themselves.


Give ‘em a break

I read an interesting quote the other day: “At no other time in our lives are we expected to be experts in everything than when we are children.” So, while I’m an adult and therefore am no expert and probably am the furthest from it, I feel that if our kid finds joy in the activity, so we should, too. And if our joy is coming from a statistic, we need to do a gut check and ask ourselves if that is truly the best judge of our kiddos’ success.


But how?

Now, the million-dollar question is how to do that. I guess I would ask what matters more: our kid’s perspective or that of the moms sitting next to us (who are probably stressing over the very same thing)? And remember, our kids look to us as examples of how to encourage teammates, of how to lose games with grace and dignity, of how to fail and get back up again. If we mess up and said the thing that hurt while meaning well, we need to embrace it as an opportunity to talk about grace and how it’s extended when we say things in a way we wish we hadn’t. It will open a door to discuss calmly and continue to be that example. By all means, though, we must keep evaluating our words and keep doing that gut check. It’s part of what equips us the next time we’re faced with disappointment with our kids. You know, when it becomes things like car accidents, wild parties and lost scholarships. Or maybe you’re already there. If you are, I’ll say an extra prayer for you.


Now, please excuse me while I call someone to brag about my kid’s amazing game and think about where she could have been just a little bit better.


Maybe you should all say an extra prayer for me.


 OK Award




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