I’m not going to lie, I am a very competitive person. I like winning in everything. Unfortunately, this umbrella of winning includes you and Olivia. I like successes and this includes yours and Olivia’s endeavors. Whether in sports, academics or milestones, I want you and Olivia to succeed at it all. I want you to be the best. You both are an extension of me so perhaps in some weird unhealthy way, I’m reflecting and experiencing your successes as my own. I know it’s wrong and sad but I can’t help it. You and Olivia are my children after all so isn’t it natural for a parent to want their kids to be the best? Don’t we all secretly hope that our children become these little prodigies where us parents sit back and acknowledge that, yes, I created this. My superior genes created this almighty human. Bow down to my amazing offspring and my magnificent procreating abilities. I mean, that’s what we’re all thinking, no? Just me?
I didn’t realize how much my need to win consumes me until recently when I was informed by your teacher that focus groups would begin to be eliminated for those students who no longer need it. Let me back up a bit. Your class is divided into groups who spend an additional hour after school, one day a week, working with the teacher on focused topics depending on how they’re developing academically in the class. You’re a part of a group of students who are already reading and identifying sight words with ease. When I heard that focus groups were being eliminated for a few students, my competitive spirit kicked in and I automatically thought that you would be one of those students deemed too smart and advanced to continue on with the program. Yes, Miles is incredibly gifted. He’s beyond Kindergarten! I made him! Look at him. He’s a smart one!
You can imagine my surprise when I received notice that your participation in the focus group would be continuing. Wait, what? I quickly asked you if the other kids in your group were continuing with the program as well and you responded nonchalantly that several other students no longer have to participate. What does this mean? Are you having difficulty reading? Are you not writing letters and words correctly? Your teacher never eluded to an issue so why do you have to continue with the focus groups? Suddenly I was riddled with questions and I began to inquire with what you were having trouble with. Did your teacher mention anything to you? Is something too hard for you? In every instance, you said everything was too easy. You then proceeded to tell me how you were asked to answer a series of questions on the computer and you had noticed that another student accidentally used your account and answered a bunch of questions wrong. Wait, what? Did you tell the teacher? Did you explain that you weren’t the one to answer the questions wrong? Does your teacher think that you’re not understanding the lessons?
Why am I freaking out about this? You’re in Kindergarten. I remember when I was in Kindergarten, fighting the urge to not eat paste out of a jar. If I could identify shapes and write my name, I was golden. When did Kindergarten become this? Why does it bother me that you’re not reading chapter books with ease in Kindergarten? Little precocious boy over there is on his second Harry Potter book already and he hasn’t even lost his first tooth. What the hell?! I breastfed you. I gave you only organic fruits and limited your sugar intake as an infant. I read the suggested 5 books every night to you before you could even speak. Why isn’t your brain firing on all cylinders? Why am I crazy? I need a hobby…and a stiff drink.
I shouldn’t be comparing you to other kids. It isn’t fair and it isn’t healthy. I know this but that damn competitive fire in me picks at me over and over and tells me that things should be different. You’re fine. You’re normal. You’re exactly where you should be. I want you and Olivia to succeed. Is this any indication that you won’t be successful later in life? No. Should I be worried? Probably not but perhaps that’s the struggle of a parent. My job is to worry over nothing and to find something to worry about when everything is humming along. I’m supposed to be crazy over your potential.
I’ve accepted the fact that you’re probably not the next Bobby Fischer. I’m seemingly ok with that. You have different strengths and successes. Take for example your ability to win unnecessary items like your latest acquisition of an electric scooter. Your school holds a monthly drawing to those who walk to school to encourage people to drive less because it’s a problem. The prize is a Razor electric scooter. Olivia has been trying to win this thing forever. This was your first entry into the contest. You were confident you would win the scooter. In fact, you walked into your classroom and told your teacher you were going to go home with that electric scooter. Your teacher, confused, thought you were buying a scooter after school. You were that confident that you would be going home with the prize. A few minutes later when the winning number was announced over the intercom, you immediately raised your hand and announced to the class that you were the winner. Your teacher, thinking you were confused, walked over and astonishingly, confirmed that you were in fact holding the number that was just called. You won the electric scooter. Holy shit, how do you do it? You’re just going to fail into success, aren’t you?
With most things, you do appear to put very little effort into things. Or perhaps if it doesn’t happen effortlessly for you, you don’t deem it worthy and move on to the next thing. Most athletic abilities come quite natural to you. I don’t correlate your athletic ability to hours upon hours of practicing. You just have an innate ability to succeed with certain sports. I say certain because there is one sport that proved to be your Everest. There is one sport that did not come naturally and in fact contributed to a great deal of stress for all parties involved. Swimming. You’ve never been a water baby and up until last year, wouldn’t even go into the pool without an adult holding you. You didn’t like the water, you didn’t feel comfortable in the water, you wanted nothing to do with water. You were anti-water which proved to be difficult for this family when we spend so much time near the water. For me, it was a safety issue. I quickly got over the fact that you would not be an Olympian swimmer (I have Olivia to carry that dream for me). I needed you to be able to hold your own in the water because we’re often at the beach or at a pool and I can’t always be worried about you drowning. We started and stopped swimming lessons so many times that I’ve lost count. I remember in one case, the teacher just telling me to put it on hold – you were too emotional to continue with the lessons. We kept at it and I guess the sixth or seventh time is the charm. Not only did you continue with lessons but you began to learn breaststroke and butterfly and even found yourself enjoying it.
It never resonated with me that you would pass the school. You were the boy who needed to be held in the shallow end. You were the kid who would scream violently if splashed at. I was in shock when I picked you up from your lesson and your teacher proudly announced that you passed. You swam 8 laps without stopping, demonstrating all 4 strokes accurately and confidently. Did the teacher confuse you with another student? You actually did this? It’s a moment I never envisioned happening. I knew you would eventually pass at some point in your life but I didn’t expect you to overcome your fear so quickly. Now you’re talking about joining the swim team with Olivia, much to her chagrin. Who are you and where is my aquatically-challenged son? I guess even you are capable of change. Bravo, Miles. Bravo.
I’m finding my biggest problem with you is I don’t give you enough credit. I often find myself comparing you with Olivia. You’ve been asking to learn the ukulele and I’ve been telling myself that you’re not ready. I look at Olivia and see how she has the maturity and the patience to sit still and listen to her instructor. What I forget is Olivia started taking piano lessons at your age. Perhaps she was just as immature as you are today although I still find that difficult to believe. It’s amazing what you forget as a parent in a short amount of time. Thankfully for me, I have this very informative blog that allows me to go back in time. Perhaps Olivia was a full blown asshole at your age and you’re actually more mature than she was. Time proves to me over and over again that I have no clue what I’m doing and the same problems seem to appear on the regular without me ever truly learning from them. You know what, if you want to learn ukulele, go for it. I have no idea if you’re ready. Should you be reading chapter books in Kindergarten? Who the hell knows? Did I eat too much paste as a child? Maybe. Do I still think I have amazing offspring? Absolutely. Some things are just easier to recognize.