My strengths and abilities in the world of compare and contrast formally began in Freshman English with Gene Jenkins, one of my outstanding high school instructors. In the essays I wrote in response to Romeo & Juliet, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey and other pieces of literature, I was all about comparing and contrasting. It comes as no surprise, then, that as a mother I am also skilled at comparing and contrasting.
I’m doing everything I can to lose this skill because it’s too easy to find the contrasts between my kids and other kids and see differences in their skills as faults. For example: Sam could read Shakespearean sonnets at the age of three, but my child couldn’t decipher the ABCs. Billy swims the length of the pool without coming up for air, and my child can’t even float, yet. The kid next door was potty trained before he came home from the hospital but we’re still buying diapers for our toddler.
I look at these contrasts and comparisons and know they don’t matter. I trust, and have witnessed how kids develop as they should and acquire skills and knowledge as needed. So, where do these contrasts come from? Is Gene Jenkins the one to blame? I don’t think so.
It boils down to wanting the best for my boys. I want them to enjoy life and to gather every valuable experience possible. When I see what others can do, I worry that I’m not doing what I should be to help them be…smart enough, fast enough, confident enough, musical enough. (Yikes! Should I have plugged in those prenatal Baby Einstein DVDs.)
But then, when I see my older son genuinely connect with new people, or jump because he’s so excited by a game of tennis, baseball or bicycle race, or lovingly take care of his brother, I know that no other kid can compare to him. Likewise, when our younger son plays the comedian at age two, thoughtfully crafts greeting cards for his grandparents or personally tells everyone in our family”My love you,” no other kid can compare to him.
There are so many ways to measure life. Ours is rich and full. No comparison required.
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