Let’s be honest. Every parent has moments of superiority over all the other cowering parents around us. We’ve done something right with our kids and we have a primal impulse to hold our heads higher and bestow upon our pitiful peers the blessing of basking in the glow of our eminence.
From a perfectly planned and timed conception to a child’s acceptance of a Nobel Prize – and every possible accomplishment in between – we parents grasp at those fleeting moments of pride and grip them as tightly as we can. Whether we broadcast these victories to everyone near and far, or do our gloating silently, is up to the individual. But we all know we’ve felt that tingle of supremacy.
I have a child who is very gifted athletically. He is the star of his undefeated soccer team, having scored in every game they’ve played. He is tall and lean and strong and fast. Oh, and he’s also adopted. But still, I take full credit for his athletic prowess.
My youngest child’s kindergarten class has on two occasions watched an episode of “Arthur” to compliment something they’re learning in class. Because he is steered away from “Arthur” (and “Caillou” and “Sponge Bob Square Pants”) at home, my endearingly obedient son sweetly informed his teacher that he’s not allowed to watch that show and she allowed him to do some other activities until it was over. Honestly, I wouldn’t have cared if he’d watched a couple of episodes with his class, but he spoke up for what he assumed I’d expect of him, and that thrills this mama’s heart.
My daughter applied for a specialized program in high school. She worked hard to put together a resume and references, and her abilities and work ethic came across loud and clear on the recent report cards that she submitted with her application. Her effort paid off when the high school guidance counselor phoned to welcome her enthusiastically to the program. We were even told that most students receive their acceptance in the mail, but the counselor was eager to break the news specifically to my daughter. My daughter. You may applaud my parenting now.
Just this weekend, my other daughter spent most of a day working outside with her daddy and then came inside to help me with some other jobs. She heartily declared how much fun she’d had that day, doing all that work with us. We are just that fun to be around. Even doing manual labour.
Conventional wisdom tells us to check our parental pride at the door and leave it there forever because of all the failures that are destined to humble us sooner or later.
Failures? Oh yes, I’ve had my share of those.
I carefully clicked my newborn daughter’s infant carrier into the car seat base without waking her up, drove half an hour to get home, and then discovered that under her cozy blanket, she wasn’t buckled in at all.
I started to tuck my son into bed one evening and asked him why it smelled like pee. “Oh yeah. I wet my bed last night. I forgot to tell you.” It was late and I was tired (and perhaps emotionally unstable at the time) so I said, “Well, it’s dry now. Good night.”
I have never bought school pictures or signed up for school lunches. Not even the milk program. Those are gaps in my children’s lives that will never be filled. The arbitrary expense is only part of my reasoning. The other is that I don’t have a personal secretary to file all the necessary paperwork for me, so it just doesn’t get done. Sorry, kids. Work it out with your therapist.
That kid who isn’t allowed to watch “Arthur”? Yeah, he saw all of the “Lord of the Rings” movies before he was four.
And then there was The Sticky Chicken Incident.
Oh yes, I have indeed had my fair share of failures. These few examples don’t even scratch the surface.
That’s precisely why I propose an about-face on the admonition against clinging too tightly to our victories. I would like to suggest that we need our pride. Instead of reluctantly letting our failures keep us humble, we need to embrace our victories to keep us sane.
Those brief islands of pride in the sea of our suckage are the yoga to our stress and the green juice to our junk food. They may not be the norm, but they are just as much a reality as all the times we hang our heads in shame. If we don’t hold our heads up once in a while, those muscles will atrophy.
So go ahead. Let’s bask in today’s victories. We deserve it…for now.