A gorgeous face, concentrating intently, as he removes soil from the flowerbeds and piles it nicely on the walk. Toddler-gardening requires an open mind about the overall asthetics of our outdoor space.

Fraser’s in the next room singing to himself, “on the bus, on the bus” after hearing the tune to wheels on the bus. It’s such a difference having a verbal toddler second time around. I find that I’m actually harder on him, expecting him to understand concepts that are beyond him simply because he can construct a sentence. It’s also made me aware of how much bragging and exaggeration there is about our toddlers among parents. Is my child brilliant because he can count to five? Well, he’s not actually counting, just repeating a series of words he’s memorized. I might think he was counting, if I hadn’t seen how D learned, carefully looking and touching objects. Fraser, adorable as he is, is not a child genius.

And why do we really want our children to be geniuses these days? Is the world so competitive that without brilliance our children are destined for poverty? I seriously doubt it. Is mediocrity okay? Yes – and we shouldn’t be setting our kids up for a sense of failure if they turn out to be average. I’m not blind, there is a wide range in abilities between kids; some of these are developmental differences and some will turn out to be more representative of ability in adulthood (I’ll be surprised if my two turn out to be artists). But happiness should be separate from high-achievement. I’m hoping to keep the pressure off my boys as long as I can and let them grow up with a strong sense of self that’s not connected to being the best or brightest.

One Bitter Lemon

  1. Lindsay says:

    Hey Trish (and Cory). I loved this post, and totally agree. We are having many of the same thoughts these days! I find it harder to avoid the competition and maintain good perspective on the whole thing the older they get, especially since Devon is starting kindergarten in the fall and there have been many decisions around that in the past few months. We kind of have the option, since M. teaches in a private school, to consider sending them there, should they be so inclined. It’s still expensive, but we would get a discount. I worry about the pressure, though, and the effect on the “strong sense of self” that you refer to – it is a very competitive environment, but a wonderful school. There is a fine line between challenging a reasonably bright child to rise to the occasion, and putting too much pressure on them.
    My group of mommy friends have been firing emails around these past few weeks discussing what summer programs they are signing their kids up for – art, soccer, biking, swimming, gymnastics…etc. I can understand that some of these parents need to use these programs as childcare when they work during the summer, but really… is that much scheduling necessary? That got me thinking about the competitiveness too. I guess we are lucky in that Michael has the summer off and we take our holidays then, so we end up doing most of these activities as a family anyway.

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