Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ordinary

Over the Christmas holidays I finished reading Simplicity Parenting.  In my case, the author was preaching to the choir; I already agreed with many of the central tenets like eliminating (or limiting) screen time in your home, reducing the number of toys, and creating rhythms for children.  The book was geared toward older children, but it helped me visualize the kind of childhood I would like to create for HP.  Obviously his childhood is not something I can (or should!) completely control, but I can lay the foundation that will allow him to create his own rich experiences.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the idea of appreciating the ordinary in our children.  In all likelihood, HP will not become an Olympic athlete, famous musician, or President of the United States.  He will be ordinary.  Extraordinary to me as his mother, of course, but ordinary to the world.  When we are able to appreciate the ordinary, we free our children from undue expectations and allow them to simply be who they are.

I know I will turn to my parents' example when trying to live out this concept.  Growing up, my parents were the most sane parents I knew.  They never tried to live vicariously through my accomplishment, which more than I can say for many of my peers.  My mother went to every diving meet of my career, save one.  I remember one meet in particular where I failed a dive, which is just what it sounds like: I preformed the dive so terribly that I did not receive a score.  When I talked to my mom in the stands after the dive, she said, "But you looked so beautiful in the air!"  And she meant it.  She genuinely did not care about where I placed or what scores I received, only that I was happy.  In contrast, my teammates often received "advice" from their parents on how they could do better.  Even at the time I recognized how special it was that my value was in no way connected to my performance.  My parents knew that I did not need them to be my coach--I already had one of those; I needed them to be my parents.  They let me be ordinary.

I want to do the same for HP.  He may excel in sports, music, or academics, or he may not.  I want him to know that the joy is not in becoming "the best", but simply in doing what he loves.  I hope he enjoys playing a sport or an instrument because it is challenging, rewarding, and--wait for it--fun!, not just because he has a talent for it.

In a culture where parents often blur the lines between their child's success and their own, I want HP to know that his value and worth are in who he is, not what he does.  I want him to be comfortable being just who he is, the ordinary and all.

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