My head is spinning right now. I’ve come to an unexpected realization: I don’t really care how my kids do in school. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to under-parent. I care very much what they do in school. I care about what they learn, I care about how they treat other people, and how others interact with them. It’s just that I feel like maybe I’ve finally turned some corner with not having any of my own ego tied up in their being A students with 160 IQ’s. Carlin had a riff that went something like “Think about how dumb the average person you meet is. Now realize that half of the people in this world are dumber than that.” Well, let’s just lay our cards on the table here: I don’t think I’m in that half.
Look, I understood a long time ago that any smarts I may have are because God gave them to me, and my parents encouraged me to use them (when I wasn’t watching Gilligan). So this isn’t bragging on my part. But Mrs. Marky Mark and I are reasonably intelligent people. So naturally, and I’m sure like any other parents, we expected our offspring to be freaking geniuses. And I’m not saying that they’re not. I’m just saying that if they’re not, that’s okay. We read to them as infants, we played them classical music. We sent them to a Montessori preschool, and now to a charter grade school that certainly raises a high bar in terms of the level of the students’ work. We even felt appropriate levels of guilt when we let them watch too much TV. Although as a side note, I happen to think that watching as much TV as I did as a kid helped me in some specific ways. But we’ll leave that for another post.
We had this in the bag, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe not. But less and less am I convinced that it even matters. Pop culture depictions and children’s opinions notwithstanding, parents generally don’t want their kids to be miserable. We want them to be happy. And there are a whole lot of people for whom the High School Valedictorian => good college => good corporate job => big house track does not equal happy. Maybe he’ll want to build custom cars for a living instead of being an attorney. And maybe she’ll be an artist instead of a veterinarian. Maybe they’ll be A students, and maybe not. And you know, that’s okay. If they’re putting in the time and the effort, and they’re pulling C’s, then that’s who they are. So what I want is for them to listen to their gut, to pay attention to their instincts, and follow where that leads. Admittedly, modern life is more difficult for an artist than for an investment banker. But I’d certainly rather they be happy artists than miserable bankers.
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