As a parent in today’s world, I am not judged by the hygiene of my child nor am I judged by the fact that he is sheltered, fed, and loved every day. No, no. As a parent in today’s world surrounded by ever increasing competitiveness and judgement, I am instead assessed as a parent by the number of languages he speaks and the number of activities in which he participates in… Before Kindergarten.
When I was growing up, if a parent were to say they enrolled their 4 year old in 8 different extracurriculars a week, you would have been gossiped about it at the PTA picnics. “Did you hear that Sharon is driving across town to make her kids play baseball EVERY Saturday?? He’s only FIVE!” Heck, in those days, my mom was heralded a hero if she managed to escape her stay-at-home-mom duties long enough to haul us all to the grocery store for our weekly shopping trip.
Mom + 3 small children + keeping everyone alive and injury free while grocery shopping = SUCCESS.
Gone are those simplistic days. Today, if you aren’t speaking 2 languages by Kindergarten, enrolled in an elementary immersion program, and already a star athlete, SOMETHING must be wrong with you!! Wrong with the child? Wrong with the parent? Possibly both 🙁 Regardless of who is to blame, the family unit is now shunned and words like “lazy,” “unmotivated,” and “boring” will forever be used to describe you while other parents get together for Saturday Gymnastics, followed by afternoon swimming, followed by Saturday evening organized soccer.
As I sat at my kindergarten nephew’s basketball game last week, I found myself a bit teary eyed at one point. On my lap was my own pre-kindergartener…. Attentively watching and cheering on his cousin, but with no interest whatsoever in being on a team himself. What is wrong with him?? What is wrong with me?? Where did we go wrong as parents that our son doesn’t have the competitive drive to dribble the length of the court and never think about passing to his teammates? What is wrong with our son that he doesn’t like organized sports? Or, perhaps, is it age appropriate and developmentally acceptable that he is perfectly normal despite his lack of desire to be on a team. Should we push him? Should we patiently encourage without pushing? Should we simply follow his lead and support his choices? No matter what we decide, as his parents and those that know him best, we will be judged. No matter what we decide, as his parents and those that know him best, we will second guess our choices. No matter what we decide, as his parents and those that know him best, we will somehow hope we aren’t completely failing him and setting him up for a life of loneliness.
Parenting is hard. Much more difficult than I ever imagined it to be.