Friday, July 05, 2013

A winner in mediocrity

Terence likes to tease me sometimes, calling me an under-achieving mum. I don't sign my boys up for a   slew of enrichment of classes. I tell my 7yo to perform to the best of his ability, and that it's ok if he doesn't come in first or score a perfect 10. It doesn't mean that I don't push him when it comes to school work. I am also disappointed if his score isn't what I'd like it to be. But I tell him don't get too hung up on grades.

Then, I started wondering: "What if I am wrong?" Together with my 7yo, I am suddenly thrown into the formal school world where I see students (and parents) jostling to be winners, to be first, to be representing the school in a prestigious competition, to be a prefect, and oh come on, be good at something!

So I am settling for mediocrity because I don't want to compete, I am a loser, I am teaching my children to be losers. Those thoughts went through my head. Perhaps I should sign him up for violin lessons, aikido, Chinese calligraphy, drama... I don't know, something, anything?! Then we'd have a higher chance of discovering that he's a music prodigy, martial arts expert, brilliant artist. Something!

So I turned to Google for help. Typed in "mediocrity children" in the search box, and I found an entry by Dr. Wendy Mogel on The Mother Company website, whose tagline reads "Helping parents raise good people". She wrote:

"Really look to whom you've been given. You receive each child as if they are a packet of seeds without a label. You don't know when that child will bloom, you don't know what kind of flower you're going to get. Your job is to pick the biggest weeds, and then just stand back and wait.

Kai has a loving heart. He is kind.
"You may find-out that you have a child that is not an athlete, or does not have a gregarious personality, or may not be a scholar. But, they may have a wonderful heart, they may be a poet, they may be a mechanic.

Kit is never where I want him to be but he is inquisitive and strong.
"You really want to look at your child, and instead of seeking out perfect experiences, you seek what is a nice fit for their nature -- not for your own unlived life."

Sure. For every article celebrating mediocrity, we'll find another (or 10?) saying that parents should not settle for mediocrity. We'd each find one (or 100?) article that reaffirms our believes, and turn up our noses at other parents' believes. "See, I am right because THIS expert says it is so." (Na-nee-na-nee-boo-boo!)

Mediocrity. Under-achieving. Hot-housing. Over-achieving. I don't know. How does one create a balance, and is there even such a thing as balance. It's either you're mediocre or you're a winner. I think I will continue to struggle with this internally for as long as I am a mother.

What I know is my children are pretty happy. I'm a winner in mediocrity. Oh wait. See, I am a winner!

(Photographs taken with the Lomography ActionSampler with the Lomography Color Negative 400 ISO 35mm film. Unedited by any photo/image software or app.)

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