If you are like me, the notion of even having kids, made you want to be a better person. Maybe you changed your diet, started working out, became more learned – all in an effort to be the best you could possibly be for your child. As life goes on, perhaps some of those improvements fade away but for most of us, we never lose sight of the fact that we want the best for our children and we want to be able to do whatever is in our means to make that happen. I am no exception – I want to ensure that my daughter is afforded all the advantages in life – especially the ones I never had. This is not to say that I want everything handed to her. Ok, who am I kidding, I do want everything handed to her – specifically on a silver platter, but I know that wouldn’t do her and society any good. I want her to earn her keep so to speak, but I want to ensure that opportunities are accessible enough for her to make those leaps and bounds in achievement – but that’s easier said than done and way more expensive.
As it turns out, there are those times when we have to resist this innate desire to always jump in and “rescue” whatever situation our children encounter. Instead, you have to sit back and witness the fruits of your labor and watch your children’s flight or fight responses take over and just hope for the best. No, I am not talking about when you child starts their career, or even starting college – I am talking about something much more dramatic and life altering – preparing for kindergarten! Recently, my daughter had to undergo “assessments” where school administrators assessed her readiness for the rigors of Kindergarten. If you have ever watched the NBA or NFL draft, I have always paid attention to the family members that are usually huddled around the phone. You see their quiet anticipation, prayer, nervous pacing – that’s me in a nutshell. This is where all our ABCs and 123s are put to the test and you hope and pray that she leaves it “all on the dance floor” and impresses the heck out of the administrators. But, there is a certain point where you think to yourself, “maybe hoping and praying just isn’t enough”. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully confident in her mastery of the complex skills needed for kindergarten but I mean, how much can an assessment really tell you? Will it expose how awesome my daughter is and what a significant contribution she would make to her class and the school – not to mention humanity? One of my favorite television shows, Portlandia, dealt with such an issue and believe me, if I had access to a professional camera crew, I too would be making a promotional DVD highlighting my daughter’s accomplishments! Obviously the reality of it is, there isn’t much else I can do that’s either legal or in good taste, to effect the outcome – it’s all up to her.
So there in lies the conundrum I am faced with – wanting my daughter to succeed in everything she does, while resisting the overwhelming temptation to make success happen for her. Years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to sit on the board of our Alumni Scholarship Program Committee. We were charge with the responsibility of reading and scoring numerous applications from prospective freshman, seeking to obtain the scholarship from our organization. As part of the application process, a series of essays were required which asked the applicants to describe their accomplishments while in high school and how their degree and life’s experiences would contribute to the University. If I am lying, let this post burst into flames – half of the applications read like the Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Kennedy Center Honors, while the other half read like they came straight out of a movie script. I remember one applicant explained that his desire to be an engineer, was based on the non-profit organization he founded in Kenya, while on vacation with his family, that was designed to make potable water, drinkable. Yet another applicant explained how her desire to be Pre-med was realized while memorizing books on anatomy and simulating surgical procedures?!? Are these kids for real? I remember thinking to myself and later discussing with the rest of the board members, that these applications were not genuine enough because they were all clearly “enhanced” in one way or another. We decided from that point forward to look for those diamonds in the rough, those applicants who haven’t already cured cancer, but have the potential to do so – which we eventually found.
My point is, we parents want so desperately for our children to succeed that it is quite simple to rationalize certain behavior. We have to really resist this inclination and refocus on wanting our children to be that proverbial “diamond in the rough” where we as parents afford them all the skills and opportunities necessary for success. And then, combined with their own self-drive and capabilities, they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. As tough as it is to sit back and let my daughter run with it, I have to be confident in all that we have done to prepare her thus far and rest on knowing that she is capable of tremendous things!
And so, as I am writing this post, the Principal has just called to inform us of the results of my daughter’s assessment – she did extremely well and has been accepted in to Kindergarten (provided our check clears – just kidding)!!!! If you have ever watched the professional sports drafts that I mentioned previously, I am reacting like those family members when they find out their child is the #1 overall draft pick! If you don’t know the frame of reference or have no idea what I am talking about, suffice it to say, it’s a grossly over exaggerated reaction – but I don’t care because my baby is going to kindergarten!!!!
Now that I have calmed down and composed myself, I realize that there will be plenty of other opportunities for me to cross the line, in pursuit of success for my daughter but, as long as I keep myself in check and remember that HER success will have to be earned by HER, I am hoping that’s enough to get my by.
Me: I am so excited you are going to Kindergarten! Aren’t you excited?
My Daughter: No
My Daughter: Because it’s going to be easy!
…I guess she’s got this. Until next time!