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

48 comments:

  1. I must say that I am so proud to be raising average under-achievers! To quote my little prodigies, Perfect Mommy and Competitive Mommy can "suck balls." You can't see it, but I am beaming with pride!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love it! especially the...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!"
    Thanks for the smiles, smirks and laughs out loud on this grey morning!

    ReplyDelete
  3. MORE COWBELL!
    Thumbelina wins the Awesome Award of the Day.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is hilarious! I love the cowbell! I can't believe there was no video posted of the SNL "more cowbell" skit to go with the post! Thanks for making me laugh...EVERY DAY! I'm about to be a 1st time mom and hope I am as awesome and average as you guys!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love it! I have 2 for the Lego travelling team...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm impressed your kids could watch The Mummy without running screaming from the room, and so good to teach them a foreign language so young anyway - see you are an overachiever Mom after all :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I always wonder if they grew up in a very sheltered existence where nothing bad ever happened. I don't want to be Debbie Downer up in here, but life is so uncertain. If your child is happy and healthy, then you are a very lucky and blessed parent. They need to appreciate that instead of constantly thinking of new ways to compare their children to everyone else. I see it here a lot too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. to my two year old every color is blue or pink. my three year old thinks numbers are letters and thinks paper/rock/scissors should be the way you pick EVERYTHING. average. yes. normal. no. now you'll have to excuse me as harry potter is in death throes on my livingroom floor from a lightsaber battle he lost with tinkerbell.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank God for you, Lydia! We are a family of average people, too. My daughter reads at grade level, spells at below-grade level, and knows just a bit more math than the average third grader - so it all works out to be a wash. She is exactly what she's supposed to be! And so am I - a mess! A neurotic slob who just wonders how I'm getting through the day. And I am so grateful for other average moms who don't feel a need to lie to their children about their worth in the world being dependent on how well they succeed (gasp).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Everybody needs more Cowbell!!!! I have one on my kitchen windowsill to prove it. AND...my kids know how to use it! Here's to Average!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bravissima, Lydia! Just finished reading THE OVERACHIEVERS by Alexandra Robbins not too long ago. We need to re-learn how to let kids be kids. The students covered in this book were SO stressed out trying to be the best, they literally had hair falling out. Average is GOOD! Average is FINE! And yes, failing can be good. Mistakes are teaching tools.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My two year old can say 'oh shit' like no one's business. Suck that, perfect mommy.

    ReplyDelete
  13. After having kids who needed all kinds of therapy to get to average, I say I like average. Average is GOOD.

    ReplyDelete
  14. As the parent of a consistent B and C (about equally spread) student I totally understand where you're coming from. This is, even though the material gets more difficult, her grades stay about the same which means she's doing fine even if she's not pulling straight As.

    Course it doesn't help that I'm in a community where the majority culture feel that a B is failure of monumental proportions. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  15. lego league rules!!

    http://www.firstlegoleague.org/what-is-fll/default.aspx?id=164

    My daughter did this last year and she is looking to do it again (all girls team - w00t!)

    ReplyDelete
  16. You just wrote about my life! Can't stand the competitive mommies who want to relive life through the kids! Hubby and I pray that our daughter who is sweet and adorable will marry someone who can appreciate her b/c she is not the brightest! Our oldest is "gifted" but can't remeber simple schmidt like closing the fridge door. Fine line, very line between dumb and genius. Give me average and happy any day!

    ReplyDelete
  17. My 2nd child did the "no" colors thing, too. ha! Too funny!

    ReplyDelete
  18. My son would love to join that Lego Star Wars traveling team once you get that together. Since the birth of his little brother, he's playing that game WAY too much.

    (His little brother was born ten months ago. I can still claim I'm "recovering," right?)

    Great post, Lydia! I'll be sharing this with everyone I know.

    ReplyDelete
  19. IMHOTEP! I LOVE IT!
    I always wonder how these kids who are not allowed to fail are going to handle 'real' life later on down the road when mom and dad won't be there to pick up the pieces. When they no longer have someone pushing their every move. Will they know what to do with themselves or know how to make decisions on their own? I am very afraid we'll see a rise in suicides. Here's to letting them be average and make their own (unique and very special) choices.
    Let's let Hawk start his own capture the flag teams. If you get enough kids who want to (I'm sure he could find that many, who doesn't love capture the flag!!)and can break them into 2 teams, more will follow. A capture the flag league! That would be pretty awesome. With lightsabers! ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  20. We SO need to get in on that Lego Star Wars traveling team action. My Aspergerish son may not be able to make eye contact, and he may not be able to go potty yet at age four, but he has maxed out the number of points you can get on LSW three times. By the way? The maximum number of points you can get? Is 4 billion. Suck it fancy, Competitive Mom.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your kids are MADE OF AWESOME.
    Oh, and MORE COWBELL!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am perfectly fine with my average kids, too. I have a friend whose son is a pretty smart little cookie and she's had problems with him pretty much since he was a toddler.

    As long as in the end my kids have some common sense, good morals and good ethics, then I think that is a pretty good achievement. We don't shelter our kids from everything, since they need to learn a bit about life and dealing with the bad things when they happen.

    I live in a community of overachievers, too, and somehow we are trying to make sure our little ones don't get all stressed out. Kids should be allowed to have some free time!

    ReplyDelete
  23. It's like dealing with an angry Frenchman

    Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I don't know what is worse cowbell, or bongo drums :) That is what mine told ME. Oh and when I tried pumping my almost 4 yr old up for preschool yesterday he informed me, "I not doing school...I am funny!" lol...oops! Kids a comedian...I hope....heeeheeehee

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just want to say for the umteenth time how much I love you gals and how normal you make me feel. This is going up as a repost. Yeah!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I was that kid who started kindergarten at four and was always two grades ahead and always got A's and graduated at 16. I loved being told how smart I was and put lots of value in that. Now that I have my own kids, I made a conscious effort NOT to start them early, although I still reward good grades and encourage learning. What gets me is my friend whose home-schooled child is my daughter's age. HER child can do everything at a third-grade level, and they both make this huge effort to accommodate my 6-year-old who is merely at a first-grade level, as if that's some form of mental retardation they have to be careful to talk around so they don't offend us. I keep wanting to holler, "I'm doing this ON PURPOSE, not because my child is an idiot or I don't care about education!" Which of course is just this over-achiever's difficulty letting go of being the best at everything. Maybe my child won't have *quite* as much trouble letting go of being the best if I can learn to do it now.

    ReplyDelete
  27. They need to have a video game camp for my son, he would love it! He has skills, and I could say, that's my son, the high scorer! You validate me.

    ReplyDelete
  28. @ the Bride....We need more cowbell!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh THANK YOU for posting about my pet peeve!! I wonder if these women can actually HEAR themselves...surely not or their internal obnoxious alarm would be blaring. But you know, it has become quite a sport to me to pick out these moms at Back to School night. You know, the night when you go, sit in the Liliputian chairs and are supposed to listen and nod as the teacher tells you about the lunch line and bathroom breaks. My friends and I often wish these were cocktail affairs, as you can make a drinking game out of it. It usually starts when the poor teacher asks, "Any questions?" (and all the sane parents silently plead that there are none)and then that first hand goes up..."I was just looking at your kindergarten classroom library, and my child read all of those books when she was three, can she get books from a 5th grade class?" or "My child is in Gifted and Talented, is he separated out for all of his classwork with like-minded children?" One of my friends and I shot each other "Maude-faces" (didn't know that's what they were called at the time) and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from guffawing. Do these women have any friends? If you are that concerned about your child's IQ rotting away from sharing a table with mine, isn't just better manners to take your concerns to the teacher in private?? I actually was at a curriculum meeting were they were discussing changes to our school's multi age program and a mom actually made this statement, "I like multi age because the teachers are strong, but my daughter has no patience for children who don't learn as quickly as she, so I think she would take out her frustration on the younger children in the class." WHUCK???? Really, this is one aspect of parenting that is just horrifying...I have to laugh or I'd cry.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thumbelina and cowbell? Hawk and travelling Star Wars Lego team? I love it!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is awesome. I love it. I truly appreciate how down to earth you gals are. I am amazed that already with my 17 month old there is already so much comparing and competition at her ECFE group---unreal. What I don't love? The not so new ad at the top on the left that covers the words no matter what computer I read you from, and haven't said anything about yet. Please fix it!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for this post. NYC is crawling with those Perfect and Competitive mommies. I'm printing this out so I can read it when they try to make me feel bad about my average (but awesome!) kids. I am shooting for mediocre and happy over here!

    ReplyDelete
  33. number 8 ladies moving straight to the top..
    U ROCK

    ReplyDelete
  34. As a former gifted and talented child who has grown up to be a pretty gawd-awful mommy (particularly on PMS days such as today)...thank you for giving me a reason to laugh at myself! Always got to remember just how wonderful our kids are for who they are :). Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love the Nelson video! :-) So awesome! As a teacher, and one who taught in both a very privileged school and a very VERY low income school, I can say that it really irked me when parents liked to tell me how to do my job. Like I had never come across anyone quite a bright as their student. Oh how I wanted to say, "Suck it Fancy" on more than one occasion. As a SAHM now, with my oldest in school, I try to be the most supportive parent I can be to my son's teachers! And yes, that means taking THEIR side, NOT my 7 year old's! I love you ladies and am sooo happy to see you climbing the charts!!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Haha, hilarious post. I live in a community where there is nobody not perfect. I love to shock the crap out of people by randomly mentioning my general lack of money or recent second divorce. I think there'd be a lot less depression in this world if people would just be a little more real. The real stuff is a lot more funny anyway!

    Single Dad Laughing

    ReplyDelete
  37. This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing. It was very timely in my life, I must add... We are currently not involved in sports, an instrument, or a gifted program due to budget constraints... Yeah, we rock!

    ReplyDelete
  38. not only did I spit coffee, but tears are now rolling down my face. It was the last part about upside down seizuring.
    My kids are awesome-weird too. Like their ability to grasp really abstract concepts, but then 10 minutes later can figure out that they have to move their head out of the way to open the door.

    ReplyDelete
  39. In our neck of the woods it's "Private School vs. Public School." Take it a step further and it's "So-and-So Private School vs. The-Other-Private-Schools." Frost that cake with "HomeSchooling." VOILA! Constant Comparison City. I'm just glad my Russian transplanted son speaks decent English and is passing.

    ReplyDelete
  40. My munchkin starts Kindy in the highly gifted program in two weeks. Yesterday she got her hand stuck in the peanut butter jar. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
  41. YES, YES, OH DEAR GOD YES!!!!!!!
    You ladies have really, truly, posted something I could not possibly agree with more! Thank you!!!!!
    It is such a relief to read this and find so many like-minded parents!

    ReplyDelete
  42. This sounds exactly like my little corner of NJ. I like to come back with "Look how tall Darling is!" You know, because its not like they can stretch their kid to compete with mine. Well, at least I hope not. Their kid may be the next Mozart or Einstein, but at least mine's not a shrimp!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Great post -- funny as hell (as always), and razor sharp. Seen this? www.racetonowhere.com Thanks for your wonderfulness.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hi Ladies. I know I'm a bit behind in my reading but I just found your blog in December and have been reading it ever since. I saw John Rosemond speak yesterday (he is Grrrreat!) and he was saying how badly our generation of mommies (ie the perfect mommies) have screwed up our children.. No! They can't be anything they want to be! And by constantly doing everything for them they will never know their strengths and weaknesses.. Amen!
    Thank you so much for all your wisdom and humor! It is such a treat for me to read everyday! XO

    ReplyDelete
  45. Yes, Hawk's got game!

    And yes, toilet tag *is* pure, kid-tastic awesomeness.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Between my two siblings and I we have a collection of 4 children (ages 8, 5, 2.5, and 10 months). All of them (except the 10 month old) play Plants vs. Zombies. My daughter is 2.5 and walks around telling people that "Zombies eat brains." And that zombies say "Brains" (but you have to say it in a scratchy, low, sleepy-sort of way). People laugh, but I'm sure they are wondering if they should call child services.

    The other day in the grocery store, I took along our Kindle. Feather (my daughter) started screaming "Oh No! The Zombies ate my brains!!" when she lost the round. And she speaks VERY clearly for a 2.5 year old. Pure Awesome Sauce!!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Yay for this post!! I hope hope hope there are others like it in the intervening years. This phenomenon really bugs me. Parents are driving for more academics younger and younger, including homework as early as pre-k. No sand tables or painting anymore, just letters and numbers.. Kids who do get into Harvard won't know what to do with themselves if their parents have directed their every moment and checked their assignments. Sometimes it is the moms who are least hands on and most laissez faire who are the ones whose kids learn to enjoy their one accomplishments for their own sake, because the parents aren't driving those accomplishments. Competitive mommy is raising a straight-A student with terrible life skills and inability to manage and own her life. Wait, is that competitive to say, too?

    Love to hear normal views on expectations for kids. Love these early posts.

    ReplyDelete

ShareThis

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts