Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Changed my mind

I started to write a post all about a mom's interference into her daughter's life. Mom seems to feel the need to call the daughter's friends whenever there is a problem, instead of teaching her daughter to fight her own battles. But then I changed my mind. Mostly because it's petty and stupid and my posting on this isn't gonna change anything, but also because I'm so fricking sick and tired of teengirl angst I just can't take much more.

But there was another thing I wanted to get off my chest, and it's more about me, a topic near and dear to my heart. I talk too much about my kids, and don't always have much to say about how things affect me. Today in the mail, the graduation edition of the high school newspaper arrived. It was as thick as a regular newspaper, and in fact was divided into sections that look very similar to the Boston Sunday Globe.

On the front page was an article about the boy I didn't get. Don't get me wrong, I love my own Boy with all my heart and I'm very proud of him, his accomplishments, and who he is as a person. But when I was thinking about having kids, I did have a kid in mind. You know, that perfect child you dream of that isn't just gorgeous in appearance, but is charitable and kind and intellectual and a great student and a wonderful athlete and well liked by adults and kids alike.

We all knew such a kid in high school, or at least I did. The kid I knew was Burl Cannon. Smart as a whip, a great student with a great sense of humor, eyelashes to kill for, handsome, and a great guy. I must have filed away Burl's attributes in the "must have" bin, because as I started planning a family (that's a joke, all you infertiles), I surely had Burl in mind as the son I hoped to have.

So I'm looking at the paper and the Phi Beta Kappa headline pulls me in. It's the story of the boy I didn't get, the Burl Cannon of this year's graduating class. Mr Perfection. Listen to his accomplishments:

  • Taken all honors classes since freshman year
  • During entire high school career only one grade lower than an A-, a B+ in sophmore Honors English.
  • Took AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP English, BC Calculus and Ceramics this year and got all A's.
  • Class officer Junior Year, Senior Year
  • Managing Editor, School Literary Magazine and paper
  • Member of Improv Show
  • International club treasurer, Junior Year, and President, Senior Year
  • Freshman football, lacrosse, and wrestling
  • Soph, Jr, and Sr Wrestling.
  • Worked part time at tony Pizza restaurant
  • Taught himself Portugese to communicate with Brazilian coworkers in restaurant
  • Taught himself to play the drums
  • Attending Dartmouth College next year after acceptances at Yale, Brown, and UMichigan.

The only thing this kid didn't do is build houses for Habitat for Humanity and run the Marathon. Now, I'm sort of a realist. I realize kids like this don't grow on trees, and most of us don't get kids that are so academically motivated. Let's get real, if you get a kid like this, it has little to do with your parenting skills and more to do with the personality of the kid.

But, I'm gonna be honest here. I really did want a kid that is amazingly academically inclined. I had dreams of discussing all sorts of esoteric things with my children as they grew into their teens. What kind of drugs was I taking? I'm lucky if I get anything other than grunts and swearing out of my kids before they boot me out of their personal space. I have a gifted child. A very gifted child. His IQ makes teacher's eyes bug out, but he's L.A.Z.Y. and makes a minimal effort at everything. Even so, he got his student of the year award, which kind of steams me, because now he thinks he never has to make any effort whatsoever to be rewarded. Not so, but getting him to learn this is going to be really really painful.

I'm not disappointed in what I got. In fact, I think most of the time (but not always) that I hit the jackpot with my kids. They are thoughtful and nice and will be good people when they are adults. It's more about me, how I wished for a kid that would put me on the mothering map in a positive way. You know, the kid that would earn me mom creds with the alpha moms driving their Lexus SUVs wearing yoga pants and drinking no-fat soy lattes, no foam, from Starbucks.

I live smack dab in the heart of alpha mom country, and they have an amazing talent to ignore anyone who drives an old car, or who wears non-designer jeans, or who doesn't talk 24/7 on their cell phone making lunch dates and hair appointments. I'm totally shoved aside by the alpha moms, even when their kids are friendly with my kids. Most of the time I'm glad to be left asunder because I don't think I've got much in common with alpha moms, but I would like, just once, for my kid to outshine their kid. Probably won't happen because their little Taylors and Mikaylahs are tutored out the yinyang with private lessons and Kaplan classes. We can't compete with that. Compete. What a weird thing to think about vis a vis parenting. But it is a competition, isn't it?

So I got a bit choked up reading about all the successful kids in the senior class and wondering what they might say about my kids. It's all good. No matter what is said or isn't said, I still love them. That's what counts, right?
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Blogger NotSoccer Mom said...

yes, loving your kids is all that really matters. i too am surrounded by alpha moms in a very republican, fairly affluent area. as i drive around in my ten-year-old sedan i realize that i don't have much in common with the SUV-driving crowd of stay-at-home moms with their successful husbands (i'm a widow and must work full-time to pay rent--forget actually buying a home). BUT my kid is awesome and some of theirs are brats. which would you rather have?

13/6/06 12:13 PM  
Blogger craziequeen said...

I have looked after a lot of children over the years, some super-achievers like this chap, and some more problematic children like your Boy and Girl.

My own brother is a super-achiever and I am, well...not!

But I think in the long run you get more from Boy and Girl than most parents get from their 'little Taylors and Mikaylahs'.

It's not what you give them that counts - it's what you instil in them.....

I think you're a fine example of an alpha mom. Yep, I do.


13/6/06 4:05 PM  
Blogger Queen of Spain said...

It's all about the love. That's it. NOthing more. Really.

14/6/06 1:30 AM  

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