This post has been in my head for quite some time. Years, really. But I decided to write it now for a few reasons. First, I have fantastic friends who are supportive of not only my kid but also me. Second, I’m seeing more and more of this. And third, I don’t care who I offend. (That last one probably has something to do with me coming up on 45 very soon).
I get that in March many people may not know what they’re doing in the summer. Most likely I’m making small talk anyway, so if someone tells me they’re thinking of exploring Mars it doesn’t really matter. And I realize that all the summer camp programs are just getting their information out and it’s not easy figuring out how to fill those eight weeks of what, when we were kids, we used to think of as bliss.
I also get that maybe people just aren’t sharers. I don’t share much unless I know people. But, if I’m asked something that I can help with I will. It doesn’t have to be just about parenting or the kids or school. I’m talking about life stuff too. Thinks like needing a new dishwasher, a good painter, a granite installation guy, or even a good colorist or stylist.
Every week I sit at youth symphony rehearsal and experience stress. At school functions, too. And on Facebook and Twitter and, well, all over social media. Why? Because of the competitiveness among parents. That’s right. It’s not that kids aren’t competitive, because they are. But the competitive questions and conversations I get from other parents totally stresses me out.
I know I shouldn’t care and it shouldn’t bother me. But it does. I teach BabyGirl to do her best and not worry about other people. That doing her best doesn’t mean that other people won’t do their best, too, and score higher or win the award or get selected. It’s about personal success and knowing that there was nothing more you could have done. It’s about offering help if asked.
Not with some parents though. It’s evasiveness. It’s being coy. It’s asking but never answering the questions. And because my mom, my grandma, my aunties, because they didn’t constantly compete with people I didn’t grow up thinking I should be competing with people when it came to general life stuff. I’m not saying I’m not competitive. I am. I’m actually very competitive. But it has to be a competition.
I feel very lucky because, in general, the parents in BabyGirl’s class are all helpful and open and willing to share new and fun things about education or camp or music. If their kid likes something they tell you if you ask because they know how hard it is finding things that work for gifted kids. Same with many of my online friends who are parenting gifted kids.
When it comes to parents outside my “gifted parent” circle, I feel like I’m not always welcome. That somehow my having a gifted kid is a personal affront to their parenting or their life. That my life if a gilded and fanciful experience of non-stop fun and affront to their life. I get a look of not being able to understand “their life” because I “only” have one child.
I don’t share things about myself or my family to make anyone feel bad or compete with them. I don’t do the humble brag. I am genuinely proud of my daughter and my husband, and I just want to share it with others. I don’t understand how anything in my life takes away from the great things in anyone else’s life. It’s as if the idea of being happy for other people and offering help take a break for some people when they become parents. It becomes a competition – when did your daughter walk, how old was she when she said her first words, when did you start him swimming, where are you going for spring break, what is your family doing this summer.
This isn’t a “keeping up with the Joneses” idea. It’s like a parental hunger games.
And I don’t like it.
What I do like is the quote at the top from Marianne Williamson. I believe that there is enough for everyone and that the less we compete and the more we collaborate the better things can be. So, I shall go on living my life in a way that makes me happy by sharing and being helpful and believing there is enough for everyone so we don’t have to pretend we’re all fighting for survival.