“What’s his event?”
“Which coach does he go to?”
“Which club does he swim at?”
“What’s his speed? ….faster! faster!!!”
I heard these voices as I walked inside to the pool of Moin Khan Academy for school swimming trials. This was a first experience for me and my son in a new school. I walked in holding my breath, looking at children diving in and out of the water. I saw some very ‘busy’ moms and I asked them who the coach was. After getting ‘the fresh-off –the-board’ look, I was told to search in the crowd for a bearded man called Sir Adnan.
Holding my son’s hand, I walked boldly towards the coach, explained the purpose of my visit and was told to pay Rs. 500 at the counter, write my child’s name and age and find the style he wants to give a trial for.
Very confidently I smiled and took my child towards the changing room full of kids with hardly any personal space for a child to change. A few moms stood outside the changing room discussing how they fed their children lunch and took them for training immediately after school.
One mom was talking about how her son had won four medals in the previous competition and lost just one race about which she was soooo upset. I smiled and introduced myself as the new mom in the school and told her how proud she must be. They glanced at me from top-to-toe (I was probably under-dressed for the trials…but I usually am underdressed for most occasions!)
I asked her when the race would start as my child had just learnt to swim and it would be motivating for him to be a part of the school team. I thought I had done well to break the ice but I received the most condescending look and was told quite haughtily that it was not a ‘race’ but an event or meet.
I shut my mouth and just stood there waiting while the mothers talked among themselves completely ignoring me.
The above scenario is one I have faced many a time since I have an ‘average child’…yes, I said it…an average child. Everywhere I go from PTMs to sports events to recreational clubs I am asked about the achievements of my child (who often misspells the word achievement…I mean seriously, spare him …he’s a kid).
What are his grades?
How many medals has he won?
How much time does he spend in training?
The list of questions is endless. And initially I found myself justifying his lack of achievements to the parents of ‘higher-achievers’ but have now realized that I don’t owe anyone any explanations.
I have met parents who boast about their children’s A* grades, extracurricular activities and claim that their child still finds time to be part of at least three teams or societies in school for which they undertake professional training. These super kids and their super parents have somehow been blessed with beauty, brains and loads of cash since these activities are super expensive at least for the likes of me.
It makes me wonder am I the only one whose kid doesn’t want to study or do training; wants to play PS4 all day and eat junk? Who gets a C- on his test and comes home still asking what’s for food and where the iPad is? Am I the only one whose child is loving, well-behaved, forgets his books at home and makes a mess of his cupboard? Am I the only one with a child who is NOT a Champion?
But the fact is that he may not win medals or score A* but he is still my child, my world. Perhaps, the best I want for him is probably not what he has dreamt of. Sigh!
I often wonder if, in my quest to make him the best at everything, I am putting undue pressure on him. Maybe his mind and body are just not ready for such pressures. Then why is it so difficult for me to accept him with his shortcomings? I mean, he surely accepts me and I have plenty of faults too. In my heart I know that his junk-filled tummy and clumsy walk is time-bound and if I don’t enjoy his childhood now and continuously hammer him to compete I will lose these beautiful years and he will soon be a grown up and not my baby anymore.
So I have a request for all parents who are struggling with an ‘average child’: Please let your child enjoy his childhood and please cherish him the way he/she is. We don’t know what life has in store for them and these competitions and grades are meaningless if our children are unhappy. Let your child blossom at his/her own speed and not at the supersonic speed you hope they would acquire. Let your child BE!
And to the parents of high achievers: I am so happy for your children and I wish that you would be happy for mine too and not look down upon us as if we have completely failed at motherhood. Please teach your children humility, compassion, respect and acceptance. Schools and institutions will always want this cut-throat competition; there survival depends on it. Their lack of ability to teach can easily be blamed on the ‘average’ child since they have high achievers to brag about – something which is not necessarily the school’s achievement.
So, please let us promise ourselves that we will be proud of all our children – high achievers and average students – and cherish their contributions without feeling embarrassed or belittled. #Ihaveanaveragechild and #Iamaproudmom.