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“Oh, you homeschool?” the woman in the park asked. “Homeschooled kids are such good kids. You must be such a proud parent…”
And I know what she was thinking, because I’ve heard it before. Homeschooled kids are so polite and so smart and so motivated to change the world.
Maybe some of them are. At times.
See, here’s the thing.
I clearly remember the time one of my always-been-homeschooled-and-should-be-smart-polite-and-motivated-to-change-the-world was sitting next to me in church one Sunday. I was listening to the sermon, trying to pick out the useful nuggets to apply in my daily life and in the process happened to look over to my (then) eleven-year-old.
Oh, good Lord. Please.
My always-been-homeschooled-and-should-be-polite-and-motivated-to-change-the-world child had pulled his arms inside his t-shirt so just his hands stuck out the arm hole. He was clawing at the air and all I could think is Good God, I’ve brought a baby T-Rex to church with me.
Proud parent moment, right there.
Maybe we could talk about the same child, who a couple years later told the eye doctor that his main aspiration in life was to work a job that had a night shift, so, you know, he didn’t have to get up in the morning.
Proud, son. I’m so proud.
Polite? Smart? Motivated to change the world? (Proud parent…cringing…)
My kids can make their own meal when they wake up at 3 am but still haven’t learned how to clean up the mess.
My oldest can shoot a turkey and bring home meat to feed the family, but he still struggles with getting his multiplication facts down.
My youngest can pick up any stringed instrument and figure out how to play it, but ask him to find a pair of socks in his dresser and he collapses into a puddle.
Real life homeschoolers. No kidding. (Super proud parent here…)
There are no bumper stickers celebrating kids who twerk their way down a State Park trail.
There are no teary eyed award ceremonies for children who make a man diaper out of a t-shirt because they are too lazy to grab clean underwear from their laundry pile.
And I have yet to hear of a child being honored for his complete failure to use his we-are-not-at-home-filter in the checkout line at Target.
Or maybe those are things that only my kids do.
(But probably not.)
As parents, why are we afraid of normal? Why do we shy away from good enough? Why can’t our kids effectively complete the job without zooming past expectations?
Not all kids will graduate when they are 12 or start a stand alone business when they are 14 or patent an invention that changes the face of humanity before they’re old enough to vote…and that’s okay.
Here is a great idea.
Maybe next time you’re at a get together and people start bragging on their kids, you can toss it up a bit. You know those conversations:
Mom #1 says her kid speaks ten languages.
Mom #2 says her son has received straight As since preschool.
Mom #3 says her daughter is going to Africa on her 27th mission trip.
…and then they look at you to add your child’s amazing accomplishment to the conversation.
Try looking right at them as you politely sip on your cocktail and say “My son makes me laugh” or “my daughter keeps life interesting.”
Because really, that’s an accomplishment, too. Be a proud parent!
As parents, we can sometimes fall victim to a bit of parental narcissism, and we want our kids to perform amazingly for the simple reason that it makes us look good. Pride can be a bad thing, especially when it makes you do embarrassing things or fail to realize that your kids are awesome just because of little awesome things they do.
Not every kid is going to win the Nobel Peace Prize or cure a disease.
And that’s perfectly okay.
My kids are smart, but they are also kids. Even more, they are human (just like me) and make a whole bunch of embarrassing mistakes (just like me). They have many moments where they really don’t care (just like me) and aren’t interested in impressing whoever is watching and keeping score. (Which, really—we could all learn from.)
And you know what? That’s okay. Because I choose to be a proud parent of that kid.