What can I say about the post, ‘My kid is average and I am oh so proud‘ ?
I can say that it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the passive aggressive tone, maybe it’s the conflation of their child’s achievements and their own ego. I’m not sure.
What I think is damaging and breath-takingly dangerous about this post, is that it reinforces stereotypes that encourage discrimination and prejudice. Even if the opposite was the author’s intent. Which I’m not sure is the case.
I feel that the problem for both the women at that table (as portrayed – and who knows if that is accurate?), and the author’s post – is that they are still stuck inside the school-box. What do I mean by that? I mean – that they seem to be judging their self-worth on the performance of their child. They’re still seeking some sort of validation through their child that they are doing OK as parents.
I’m going to let you in on a secret. I don’t mind what my kids do when they grow up. I don’t mind what they’re doing now. I don’t need external ‘good-work’ badges to make me feel good as a parent. If they’re happy, I’ll be happy. If they’re eventually able to live independently, I’ll be ecstatic. Because not everyone will get that chance with their kids. And some of those people might have been sitting around that table.
My son recently walked normally down the road – that’s a victory. He also finished his 5th grade maths. That’s a victory. Neither is better than the other – they both took mountains of effort. One of the bravest things my son (who has SPD and HATES loud noises) did was to lie still in an MRI machine so his brain could be scanned. That is one of the moments that I am proudest of my boy.
My kids and I spend an awful lot of time at hospitals. Particularly the specialist paediatric clinics. And I meet a lot of kids with special needs and their parents. One of the best conversations I had was with a mother whose son was non-verbal and confined to a wheelchair. She was one awesome mum – an old campaigner. When she talked with her son you could see the loving care and pride. Yes, mixed with sadness. But she was proud. Rightly so. She and her son had climbed metaphorical mountains. She could tell what her son needed by reading his facial expressions. He was patient and able to cope with waiting rooms. Her son might never get to talk, or compete in sports; get an F on an exam. He is still an amazing boy. His mother doesn’t need to list his achievements. He. Just. Is.
I don’t need to list my kids achievements to feel better about myself. No one should. I believe my kids are awesome. But you know what? I think ALL kids are awesome. But I don’t need to level the playing field. I don’t need to pretend that all children are equally brilliant at everything. I don’t need to pretend that every child has an equal chance of climbing the metaphorical mountain, whatever that mountain may be.
If you can’t be happy at someone else’s well-earned (or seemingly not so well-earned) achievement, I think it’s worth asking – where’s your stake in it? Where does your ego reside? Why are you even comparing?