How many of us have sat through assemblies where the announcement is made at the beginning: please hold your applause until the end because there are so many awards! Well, there might be hundreds of awards being handed out, but take heart, there are still loads of kids who don’t get an award. Ever.
For every single one of those kids there is a parent like me or you second guessing themselves and wondering if we should have/could have done more. It feels so defeatist to continually urge the kids to do their best when time and time again we are reminded that their best is not the best.
Take heart, there are still loads of kids who don’t get an award. Ever.
In a world where society celebrates success as the be all and end all of everything, being average means kids often get overlooked. I think the same goes for parenting. Sometimes as parents it is very easy to get caught up in the spinning wheel of ‘my kid can do this’ or ‘my kid can’t do that’. The fact is, as long as they are doing ‘their best’, my kids are perfectly wonderful without being ‘the best’.
The reality for my kids is that they have rarely been those high-achieving kids. To be sure, they are solidly average. For a time, my eldest regularly received the Application Award (also affectionately known as the “try-hard” award), but they are not the most brilliant or most sporty in their cohort. And that’s okay. We are perfectly okay with our kids being average. We should all be okay with our kids being average.
We are perfectly okay with our kids being average. We should all be okay with our kids being average.
Solidly average kids are awesome. They are consistent in their efforts at school and in other things they do. They know that there are some things they simply don’t enjoy and they won’t work hard in those areas. There are other things they love and it’s our job to guide them to believe that focusing their hard work and dedication means they might excel. Or they might not.
Often we see other kids who are excelling and doing amazing things. It is very tempting to benchmark our kids against them and think, I wish my child could … or I wish my child was better at …
However, what we forget is the incredible effort that is often required by the kid to get there. The focus, commitment and drive that is required is truly worthy of award.
Parents also sacrifice plenty to get their kids to this top level. Olympic champions are not simply born champions, they have parents who have sacrificed countless hours of sleep to get them to training, forgone family holidays because their child had sporting commitments, and spent a lifetime supporting, cheering and boosting their little champ.
Brilliant scholars are the same. Children who are gifted and talented in academic areas or the arts also require a huge commitment from parents. Keeping their kids challenged, growing and achieving. All the tutorials, practise sessions and performances. This is not to mention the financial burdens of having kids who excel in one area or another.
Our parenting is as solidly average as our kids, and we should make our peace with that.
For many parents, the commitment required is just not in us. Our parenting is as solidly average as our kids, and we should make our peace with that.
Solidly average and doing just fine
Sometimes when we see other people doing these things with their children, we can feel overwhelmed. It sparks feelings of guilt that we are not (or cannot) provide our children with these same opportunities. Frankly, we need to give ourselves a break! We forget to celebrate all the things we do every day for our children. Providing them with safe, loving environments. Clothing, feeding and sheltering them. Giving them all the things they need to get through each day as well-adjusted people.
Often, the things that matter most are not the things our society celebrates with awards.
As a mother I certainly have my shortcomings (and they are many), but I think overall I do pretty well. I am working towards planned redundancy if you like. They might not be top of the class or sporting field, but they can keep house and do most of life’s admin. More importantly, they are great friends to others. A strong sense of empathy and social justice means that they look out for the kids that are sitting on the outside. Nothing makes me prouder than that.
We need to stop beating ourselves up if we can’t do everything other people can with their kids, or that our kids can’t do everything other kids can do. Often, the things that matter most are not the things our society celebrates with awards. We all have different gifts in life. If at the end of the day we do the best we can for our children with the gifts, abilities and financial means we have to offer, and they do the same in return, that is all that anyone can ever hope for.
Practising what we preach
Hugs to all the mums out there (especially those of us in the trenches of tweens and teens). You are all amazing and your kids are amazing! It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, as long as you do the best YOU can. That is what counts. That is what we teach our kids, so it has to be okay for us as parents as well.
We need to remember that even though our children may not be the world’s biggest, best and brightest, they will always be our biggest, best and brightest. At the end of the day, the most important award we can give to our children is for them to grow up knowing they are loved. Irrespective of who they are and what they do.
And there’s nothing whatsoever average about that.