Can we all just get over our kids?
Yeah, we love them. They are the moon, sun and stars. The air we breathe. And yes, I know parents should be obsessed with their children. I do believe that’s part of the child-rearing creed.
What I want to point out is that while it’s super that you’re addicted to them, please don’t expect me to be. In fact, there may not be anything more boring than a mom or dad whose sole topic of conversation is about their amazing kids. For the love of all that is holy, just give a rest. We get it: Your kids are the best and the brightest — or at least in your brain they are.
I’m curious as to why parents feel the need to continuously sing the praises of their offspring? Why does anyone imagine that other people want to hear, pretty much all the time, about your wonderful children? I love my kids and guess what? I, as their mother, sometimes don’t even find them that thrilling. So, I would never assume that other people would be enthralled by their “achievements.”
Things came to head this week when a couple of moms figured out that you could find your high school child’s current class rank by going online and signing into your school’s parent account. I currently don’t know the class rank of my own daughter, but I do know the rankings of about 15 other kids because their parents won’t shut up about it.
I want to tell these moms and dads to calm themselves because their kids are only high school freshmen and if I’ve learned anything it’s that high school is a marathon, not a sprint. Get back to me in your child’s senior year and then I’ll act impressed. If you’re lucky, I’ll add in a high five.
What a lot of moms and dads need to do is come out of the parenting closet. Oh, it takes guts, that’s for sure. Not many of us have the courage to share the unedited, nonscripted version of our child. A couple of months ago I was volunteering at a high school and a group of theater moms were talking about their children. I was hanging back, being new to the theater mom arena, and just listening in.
My initial take away was that theater moms might be the most hard-core, ruthless parents I’ve ever come across. And that’s saying a lot because I’ve been everything from a soccer/volleyball/baseball/dance mom to a competitive Lego club parent (You’ve haven’t lived till you’ve witnessed two parents chucking limited-edition Lego Architecture bricks at each other. Note to everyone: Don’t get in the way of a dad attempting to get his kid qualified for the Lego World Robot Olympiad).
The mothers were engaging in rapid firing one-upping and as I was keeping score it seemed like the musical theater moms were getting in the most verbal punches. Not that the one-act-play parents weren’t giving it all they had, but bless their hearts they couldn’t keep with the wannabe Broadway bunch.
Then, out of nowhere, a mom mentions that she just “hopes her son graduates high school.” As soon as she said that everyone froze, like we all weren’t sure of what we had just heard. I was ecstatic. I do believe for a moment I fell in love. I wanted to get down on one knee, propose and run away with this courageous woman. Instead, I looked at her and said, “You are my hero.” And I meant it. She had boldly gone where almost no mom with a kid born in the 21st century has gone before: to the alternative universe where parents are honest.
I naively thought this would open up the discussion to being more than a contest about whose kid was most likely to get a Tony award by 2022, but I was wrong. The other moms’ just shook off the blast of candor like a dog inadvertently misted by a lawn sprinkler and continued on with their kids’ greatest hits.
I don’t mind a parent being proud of their kid. What I’m confused about is why that’s all we can be. Why have we as parents congealed and hardened into one, big, unyielding igneous rock of “my spawn is more awesome than yours?”
We’re cheating yourselves and our kids. Honesty is good for friendships and families. Parents need to be able to vent and ask for advice from other souls in the child-rearing trenches. As it stands now we’re all afraid to show any weakness so we either say nothing or disguise our children’s realities like an airbrushed selfie — too perfect to be true.
Freelancer Sherry Kuehl of Leawood writes Snarky in the Suburbs in 913 each week. You may join Sherry for her Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble in Texas book launch party from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at Hy-Vee Market Grille, 14955 West 151st St. in Olathe.