As a blog post is brewing in my heart, I sometimes think that my blog subtitle should be "making other moms feel superior one post at a time". After all, my pattern is generally to blow it royally for a really long time before something smarter occurs to me. Read: I get in my own way. I make matters worse. I'm a slow learner.
Confession: My husband and I have occasionally been guilty of comparing our kids' performance to other kids'. When our kids didn't "get it right", we inevitably found ourselves on a mission to help them "get it right". If we're being completely honest, this helping was generally more upsetting than anything - for everyone - as we'd somehow end up saying or insinuating that our son was blowing it by not trying hard enough, or not taking it seriously enough, or not practicing hard enough. Although we never meant it this way, basically the message received was often that our kid wasn't good enough.
I know. Horrible. Right?
Is it just this ridiculous pressure to fit in? To conform? To have a reputation?
That's laughable... After all, we're talking about little kids here!
And, frankly, that last one makes my stomach flip ... but I think there's some truth to it. I don't worry anymore about my reputation, but my kids still have their entire lives ahead of them and I don't want them to be teased or isolated for not having the just-so reputation.
I know that there is absolutely nothing godly about that thought process... But this is an area where I struggle. I want my kids to have an "easier" time of it, and that includes being easily accepted by their peers.
And then we go and muddy the waters completely by sending the message - through all of our help - that they are not good enough.
I've been convicted.
Certainly, we do expect full effort in all areas ... but how my kid stacks up to your kid doesn't matter. How my kid feels about himself is what matters. Does he finish with a smile? Does he feel built up and successful? Is he proud of himself? Is he happy? Was it fun? These are the things that matter.
We can study and practice till the cows come home, but we are no longer comparing our kids to other kids. It's entirely about being the best version of themselves.
Today, I watched my oldest play soccer with fresher eyes. He's on a really good team, with really competitive kids who play a lot of different sports year round. And, my guy is ... well ... analytical, slower, not eager to get physical, not one to over-schedule ... but he rocked it his way today.
With our support [with us off his back], he had the freedom to simply have fun and be himself. It was a tournament, playing against elite teams, and our kids are really focused on learning their positions and responsibilities this season ... and Zach has an excellent memory for those kinds of things. He knows the rules and doesn't break them - no off-sides for our guy. And every time someone had to throw-in or take a goal kick ... he knew which player had that job and was telling them where to be and when. He was an excellent player-coach today. And he got in there and fought for the ball every chance he got. And I've got to think that it was, in part, because we just stayed out of the way and let him do his thing. However quirky.
And he had a blast. Their team rarely loses, but they lost all three tournament games this weekend. But Zach came off the field saying, "Wow, they are elite teams and we're just a rec team. I bet they think we're an elite team too, because we're really good."
That's the smile we're looking for.