Parenting

I am giving you permission to roll your eyes when I brag about my kids…

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That was my contribution to a twitter conversation going on yesterday about how sometimes, just being proud of your kids, can be seen as “bragging” on social media. I have ALWAYS been guilty of both things. I brag about my kids online, and then I get grumpy about parents who do the same. But – the grumpy response – it’s all in my head. It’s a subtle and very short-lived mental eye-roll that says, “Yep…there she goes again…on and on about her perfect children…”

You see…here’s the thing…I know that is ALL ME. I know that, deep down inside, I am constantly in fear of screwing up my kids. So, if it seems someone else is demonstrating how NOT screwed up their kids are, then of COURSE my defense is to say to myself, She’s just bragging…jeezus…pipe down already. And if she’s bragging about an achievement my kids can’t or haven’t made, I immediately justify it in my head as well. I figure out a shift in the perspective so that I’m still the better parent, or at least a shift so that I can say, “Well, my kids would be an archery champion too if we had the money to spend on such nonsense.”

(I don’t know any archery champions.)

One of the things that triggers my insecure parent reaction is the name-dropping of gifted classes. Here, the gifted program is called “SPACE” (Maybe it stands for something? I don’t know…MY KIDS AREN’T IN IT) and whenever I hear someone name-drop SPACE, “Well, Biff’s SPACE teacher says…” or “We were working on Lucille’s SPACE homework…” I roll my eyes SO HARD. Like, NICE SUBTLE BRAGGING ABOUT YOUR GIFTED CHILD THERE.

But here’s why…it’s because E fell into a peer group of super-smart kids in middle school. They hung out together and ate lunch together and it was all great. Except that all of those kids were in SPACE or Such-in-Such Honors Class and he wasn’t. He was in Honors English, but none of the other stuff. And I would just get so irrationally angry about it. MY KID IS AS SMART AS THOSE KIDS. WHAT IN THE HELL? But, of course, logically? I know that’s not what it’s about. It’s about how you test. And what KIND of smart you are. And it totally depends on your grades. And E never tested well. He wrote novels every summer (Seriously. NOVELS. He even sent on to a publisher once.) and read every book he could get his hands on, but he didn’t test well. That’s why we dumped big bucks into getting him ready for his ACT, because THAT test matters. The rest? Just help you get into the honor’s programs.

But I was super defensive about it. And to protect myself, I would judge the other parents. WHICH IS SO STUPID, I know.

Another reason I would get all eye-rolling about parents who brag about their kid’s being in honors classes? Because I was in honors classes. I made straight-As most of my life and tested well. I was the textbook SMART KID with the GREAT GRADES. I was on the Math Team. I reached all of those academic goals parents brag on their kids about today.

And my first year of college I did a bunch of drugs and also got pregnant. So, you know…YAY! HONORS MATH!

I mean, we all know my life turned out great, but it has nothing to do with Honors Math or the gifted programs I was in…nothing at all. So, I would constantly remind myself of that when I would start to feel like other parents were bragging about their kid and their honors programs.

MY POINT: I roll my eyes and call in “bragging” when any parent seems proud of accomplishments their kid made that my kid did not. I then find ways to justify why my kid didn’t, He’s a bad tester! We can’t afford private school! They’re too busy to take extra classes on fluid dynamics after school!

And all of this? ALL HAPPENS IN MY HEAD. I never vocalize ANY of it because I know – in a very real sense – that it is all my own insecurities as a parent. My own fears that I’m screwing up my kids. So, yes, I may roll my eyes wen you post pictures of your kid’s calculus graphs in the 4th grade, but it’s because I’m terrified my own kids are permanently screwed up because I didn’t teach them calculus in fourth grade. So – I roll my eyes, I tell myself: They’re just bragging…but then I acknowledge it’s my OWN insecurities as a parent that makes me react that way and then I move on to the very important step:

I feel sincere pride in my friends or my family and their children.

Because I can see that my defensive insecurities are all in my head? I can THEN move on to being proud of the children in my community. I CAN GET OVER IT. I don’t vocalize it, I don’t whisper with my friends or my husband, I think the negative thoughts and then I move on because I know that perspective is not real, it’s insecurities in my head.

AND HOW DO I KNOW IT’S ALL IN MY HEAD?

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Because I am the QUICKEST to brag about my own kids. I mean, how many pictures and statuses do I post about E and his theatrical achievements? Or the chair positions he holds or the offices he’s been granted in his fraternity? EVERY DAY I BRAG ON THAT SHIT. And my daughter? She just reached her 200 AR points and I posted that picture with that brag ALL OVER THE INTERNET. And Wes? I bragged about every soccer game he played in last fall because he scored like a million points per game.

I AM THE BRAGGINGEST PARENT OF THEM ALL.

And because I am CONSTANTLY rolling my eyes when YOU brag about YOUR kids, I give you permission to roll your eyes when I brag about mine.

Because I know that – deep down inside – we’re all just terrified we’re screwing our kids up. We find ways every day to interpret their achievements (or lack thereof) as failures on our part. So, when other kids reach goals our kids don’t? It’s natural to make ourselves feel better by mocking their talents. The key is, don’t try to fool yourself into ACTUALLY believing that

A) You’re a crappy parent because your kid can’t play the cello OR
B) They’re a crappy parent because they make their kid play the cello instead of baseball where your kid excels.

Brag about your kids to your friends and family, OR quietly roll your eyes when your insecurities have you irritated that other people brag about their kids. But then leave it all there. Don’t constantly look to your kid’s AR points as the reason you are the BEST PARENT IN THE WORLD, and don’t look at your friend’s kid being in the gifted program as the reason you are the WORST PARENT IN THE WORLD. I think, as long as we all know that deep down we’re all doing our best, and we don’t resent other parents or lift ourselves above other parents, then it’s okay to periodically roll your eyes at the video of the 3-year old doing her times tables. And it’s okay to post pictures of your child’s straight-A report card.

It’s a natural first-instinct to get defensive when other people excel. And it’s a natural first-instinct to showcase the excellence when you excel. But in the end? We all still need to recognize that – in the big picture – none of it matters. What matters is that, when push comes to shove, we all support each other as a community. We keep the annoyed whispers in our head and recognize them as a manifestation of our own insecurities, we don’t carry those whispers out into our community where they can snowball into divisive forces amongst parents.

6 thoughts on “I am giving you permission to roll your eyes when I brag about my kids…”

  1. I don’t give a hoot about gifted classes here, either, despite being in all those honors classes myself. My husband who will tell you that he drank, played basketball and never did his homework in high school is the one who has been very successful in his career. Not me. Around here, the classes are called GT. I also spend a lot of time with my 94 year old grandmother who likes to knock back a couple of gin and tonics each afternoon. So, basically, when I have to discuss this with parents who are proud of their child’s academic achievements, I tend to call them G&T classes. That always surprises all those parents!

  2. Confession time: I can totally relate to this post — even to the extent that I’ve “hidden” certain people from my newsfeed. I found myself getting that same type of insecurity/jealousy that I get when I look at Pinterest too long. It may seem extreme, and I feel silly that I’ve had to do it, but it keeps me from comparing my kids to others’. My kids are great. It’s their mom who has a problem ; )

  3. Oh, man. PINTEREST IS THE WORST. I am constantly looking at stupid crafts and teaching pins and feeling TOTALLY CRAPPY about my parenting skills. Also about my style and my cooking. *sigh* I used to love Pinterest, and I probably could love it again if I would clean up the boards I follow to only lazy parents like myself 🙂

  4. Donnie never applied himself, but he was still always in the honors programs in elementary/middle school. He just didn’t really care about it. So it makes for a weird perspective. He really wants Nikki in the programs because he was in them, but she actually cares so she’s probably thrive a lot more than he did. It’s weird. I kinda hate it all because if E wasn’t in them, and he’s super-smart, then I think they must all be bogus 🙂

  5. I find that any time people have negative feelings about any thing on-line( personal achievements, documenting their exotic travels, even newspaper stories about people who suffer tragedy) it is always about our inner insecurities and feelings of lack of control that contribute to that ungenerous reaction. Recognizing that is what allows me to forgive myself for feeling that way in the first place and then helps to put things back into perspective. Sounds like you got that down pat.

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