There is an instinct in parents to brag on our kids. We are “one-uppers” when it comes to sons and daughters (i.e. “Your kid is lead scorer of his soccer team? Well my kid is being recruited by colleges already”).
I’m sure it’s nothing new and it will probably never be old. Parents probably bragged on their kids even back in Bible times. There’s Joseph standing next to the other dads watching their sons play soccer in a field, or whatever game they played. Jesus has just scored again, but still manages to encourage the other team at the same time. One dad starts in about how his son is already catching twice as many fish as he is. Boy, won’t he make a great fisherman when he grows up. And another dad brags about how his son can plow a field like nobody’s business and he’s only 9! And then Joseph pipes up and the other dads just roll their eyes because his kid is sooo perfect.
As parents, we always want our children to have better than we did, to be better than we were. It must be the survival instinct to better the human race.
When my kids were little and I put Rachel in ballet for the first time, I had these very grand ideas of her becoming a prima ballerina. I envisioned trips to New York where she would audition for Julliard, or whatever famous school, and they would beg her to be in their school. I foresaw Graham, large-baby Graham, being a line-backer and first string on the high school football team and then going on to college with a scholarship. He’s still shorter than most boys his age and skinny as a whip, but I digress.
I remember a very sobering conversation with my husband not too long ago. We often sit around and talk about how great and talented the kids are and pat ourselves on the back for doing such a wonderful job and “isn’t Rachel the most beautiful girl ever! And that Graham, boy he’s going to make a lot of money when he grows up. Do you think other people think this about our kids or are we just biased?”
Then one day, while we were gushing about our super-talented, beautiful children, I asked Randy, “What do you think Rachel will be when she grows up?” His reply was, “She’ll more than likely be a wife and mom.”
Nuh-uh! Hold up! Kill the motor dude!
She’s going to MIT to study robot engineering and discover the cure for cancer! Or she’ll be a famous singer and songwriter and I’m going to sit on the front row with thousands of screaming fans and beam because that’s my daughter. Or Graham is going to be a famous soccer player or skateboarder and go on the Mountain Dew tour and I’m going to sit on the front row with thousands of screaming fans and beam because that’s my son!
When in reality, Rachel will probably be a wife and mom and lead a Bible study at her church and teach Sunday School in the Jr. High ministry. Graham will probably fall madly in love with some girl whom I am already praying for and work on computers like his dad. They will most likely live quiet lives like their folks do and in some way work hard to contribute to the gross national product and most importantly the Kingdom of God.
That’s really all I can ask for. I’ve not given up on the grand dreams and will be right there thinking “I knew it!” when a record producer discovers Rachel. Or when Graham takes time off from being CEO of his very successful computer gaming company to represent the US in track and field at the Olympics. But I believe success as a parent is how I’ve raised my child to be a blessing to others. I know how great they are and if God chooses to share their greatness with the rest of the world, that’s cool. But I often have to back myself up during these bragging sessions with other parents, and stop worrying so much that my children aren’t “advanced” enough or a prodigy in something.
I realize that if they turn out like their folks, living quiet lives, that’s really great. After all, their mom is not just a mom. She’s also an actress and a writer…that gets paid for acting and writing even. Their dad is a video game producer for crying out loud.
So if I’m on my death bed and surrounded by my children, and their children, and their children’s children, much like my grandmother was not too long ago, I will count my life successful. And theirs too.
Did I mention Rachel’s written two books already and starting on a third? Just saying.