Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Kids Are Super Stars

I live in a community over-populated with high achievers.  Perfect Mommy and Competitive Mommy are well-represented.  It's an entire county filled with gifted and talented children (now grown up) parenting gifted and talented children.  And it's starting to work my last nerve.  I get it.  You're special.  You're gifted.  So are your kids.  Guess what, hotshots?  Everyone thinks their kids are super stars.  Even me.  Most of the time. 

It's the hyper-competitive atmosphere that leads to conversations like this:
Mom 1: (solemnly) We heard back from the school today.  Little Precious is reading at or above grade level.  All our hopes for him... (quietly sobs)
Mom 2: I am so sorry.  He'll do fine... I'm sure...  At a community college... (smirks to self) 



I overheard that conversation at drop-off for camp last week.  The child in question was SEVEN.  Apparently, reading at or above grade level is just not special enough.  It is uncomfortably close to average.  Her second grader was reading well by all objective standards, maybe even as well as a third grader. But that was considered a disappointment. And we can't have that.  Because if the kid is average - then what does that say about his mother?  Around here, it's not enough that your kid is smart, he has to be a genius. He can't just be good at piano, he has to be a prodigy.  You get the idea.

To those moms who perpetuate this crap, I say...  You may have gone to an Ivy League school, you may have been academic hotshot, you may have had a successful career.  But at present, Cupcake, you're a full-time mommy.  Your job is no different than mine or about a million other women.  And that job involves begging short people to poop for you and teaching them not eat their own boogers.  In this community of yoga-toned, well-educated, gold-star-getting, gifted and talented moms - you are average.  So in the immortal words of Nelson Muntz...



I think we should all untighten the sphincter a little bit.  For ourselves, for our children, for our sanity.  I think creating a set of whackadoodle expectations for kids that leaves no room for them to fail and learn from that failure is short-sighted and douchey.  I expect my kids to always make an effort, to follow the rules and to do so with a good attitude.  I want my kids to be able to bounce back from a f*ck up or a horrible year or a run of bad luck.  There are too many really smart people out there who cannot seem to deal with the curve balls that life inevitably throws right at your snot locker.

I think we'd all be a lot happier if we could just admit that we're a bunch of fairly run-of-the-mill asshats who are doing the best we can.  I mean, my kids are bright, but would probably be a whole lot smarter if I wasn't such a lazy fart who let them watch the Wiggles instead of "So You think Your Baby Can Read" or whatever the hell that thing is called.  And little Miss Paltrow's brilliant offspring (who is so disappointingly reading at grade level) seemed to me to have a tendency to trail off mid-sentence and look around like he forgot where he was.  And you know what? That makes me like him.

But I get all caught up in it, too. The hysteria to have superstar kids sometimes makes me unwilling to admit that... How do I put this?  That maybe... possibly... perhaps, my children are a different kind of superstar.  They get good grades, they have what Napoleon Dynamite would call "skills" (swimming, tennis, choir, piano, scouting), and they are hilarious, awesome little people.  But as of yet, they are not shining examples of unparalleled excellence.  No patents or concertos . . . yet.   And occasionally, they do some pretty weird stuff. 

I'm going to be brave.  I'm going to openly admit that I am not perfect and neither are my kids and we're just fine with that.  I will give you some examples, that's how committed I am to my new cause of lowered standards and expectations.  I am outing my family as being... (gasp!) normal.  And maybe, even a little goofy.  Here goes.
  • We enrolled my 5 year old son Hawk in a multi-sport camp so that he could try things out and find the one he liked best.  Then we would focus our energy (and money) on the thing he really liked.  Would it be soccer? Baseball?  Oh no.  Of course not.  Sigh.  I think I may have some trouble finding a Capture-the-Flag Youth League, as he now refuses to play anything else.
  • I asked Thumbelina if she still wanted to play piano in the fall.  She replied that her interest now lies in a new instrument.  Cowbell.
  • One of the first words all three of my children could clearly pronounce was this: IMHOTEP. Yes, that's right. IMHOTEP, the Mummy. They walk around like dead-eyed zombies with their arms pointing straight out, chanting: "IMHOTEP. IMHOTEP. IMHOTEP." Which is pretty random in itself, except that they invariably choose to do it in places like my mother-in-law's church. Where people then ask me if they're foreigners.
  • My 20 month old will not submit to learning the names of colors.  Every color is "NO!"  Blue? NO! Yellow? NO! White? NO! It's like dealing with an angry Frenchman.
  • Thumbelina, our pride and joy, was asked to brush her teeth last night.  I heard her walk into the kitchen, where I found her five minutes later staring vacantly into the trashcan. 
  • Upon being told he should pick a sport to play (and since being a Capture-the-Flag first round draft pick is probably not an option) Hawk suggested we find him a Lego Star Wars travelling team.
  • Thumbelina said she could walk on her hands and then demonstrated.  It looked like she was having 2-second seizure upside down and then concluded with her falling down and landing spectacularly spread-eagle on the floor.  There was a sound of about 13 thumps in a row, as if someone dumped a bag of onions down the steps.  Then she jumped up, put her arms in a high V and triumphantly screamed: "TA DAAA!"
So there, Perfect Mommy.  And suck it, Competitive Mommy.  Me and my kids are slightly above average.  At being awesome

xo, Lydia

PS: If you want some video, we've got some right here.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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