As I walked to the sports field on Saturday, my suede boots sinking deep into the water-logged grass, armed with an umbrella, as well as one-of-those-supposedly-life-changing-novels, that just isn’t, I mentally prepared for the often-less-than pleasant culture that emerges when parental egos converge at a children’s sporting event. I have a set of rules.
Rule one: Don’t talk unless talked to. This is not because I am trying to be mean or hostile or anti-social. It’s just at events like these, people are interested in telling about themselves or their children. So, to be honest, no one, on the whole, really wants to hear much about anyone else’s life. I find it is best just to listen. Rule two: Don’t brag about anything about your child…college plans, grades, AP or honors courses…and never mention any statistics or sports rankings. These are all topics that do not trade well in such social situations. In fact, such talk engenders that old keeping-up-with-the-Jones spirit. It awakens the inner demon of I-am-not-enough or I’m-not-doing-it-right.
I sit down on the bench, and of course, there is a mom bragging about her children. Quite loud. Quite unwarranted. But I know what’s eating her. I know that she does not mean to be so flagrantly self-promoting. I get her. It is her not-enoughness, like an evil puppeteer, manipulating her to say too much, because deep inside, she does not understand that she and her children, are rare and wonderful and unique, even if by our silly culture’s standards, they seem average, or as Star Testing cruelly hisses, below basic.
You know, my whole goal in writing this blog is to tear down all the man-made ideas that have diminished human beauty. It is not that straining for excellence and achievement are bad things. However, if the motive finds its origin in some kind of inferiority, it is always sick and wrong.
Doing your best because you feel a sense of glory, of being truly alive…now that is cool. Doing it because you think that if you try a little bit harder, you just might deserve to occupy a space on this planet, that will result in a vast and empty wasteland within. I think it is why you see people who literally fall apart when they have finally achieved some culturally induced goal. Everyone muses, “What happened? He or she had everything.”
You don’t have everything, unless you love your bumpy, less-than-average inner self.
And guess what?
Love and acceptance remarkably have the effect of growing greatness.
Remember… it is the gloriously mystical phoenix that rises from the ashes…not from the perfect SAT scores or perfectly managed stock portfolio.
So, on to rule number three: If I do find myself in a place where I have to talk, I always tell the truth… that it has been hard. We have often been stupid. That my children struggle…and then I tell how we have learned to be okay with being average.
And then I tell about grace.