Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Trouble with Success

As moms, we're never the first to give ourselves credit.  If our kids misbehave, it's our fault and our job to correct and guide them in a better direction; if they behave properly, they're just naturally angelic and we didn't have anything to do with it.

However, this is all a load of honky.  We need to own the fact that our kids do well because we worked our tail ends off.  Success in anything isn't easy to come by.

Last week I posted that M2 had declined a cookie offered to her by one of the founder's of the swim school where she takes lessons and where M1 is on the team.  Because she was so gracious, he remembered her, and when he saw her sitting beside the pool waiting for her lesson to start, he recognized her and stopped to say hi.  Then he noticed that she was in a class teaching the level right before the kids are allowed to try out for the swim team.  He came and let me know what he'd been talking to her about (the cookie, mostly, and asking if she liked swimming) and then asked if she had thought about trying out for the swim team.  Well, yes, she has, because her brother is on it and it would be mighty convenient for ME if both kids were on the team.  I told him that.  We chatted for a few minutes more, and he left, presumably because he had other things to do.  A few minutes later, though, he motioned me out to the pool deck.  He offered to have the swim coach (who teaches a lesson simultaneously to M2's) evaluate her to see what she would need to improve to be on the swim team and also offered to let her swim with the team during their practices.  I was floored.  Of course, I said I would talk to M2 to see what she wanted to do.

M2 was initially enthusiastic about the idea, but her energy quickly faded.  She's a perfectionist, just like her mother (poor thing) and doesn't want to hop in the pool with her brother and all the swim team kids until she can keep up and knows all the strokes, and she's not 100% sure she wants to be on the swim team, anyway.  At the same time, though, she told me she didn't want to upset the pool owner.  Ain't she sweet??  I told her not to worry, that I would much rather have her follow her own dreams and goals and that I would take care of any problems.  Her job was just to continue to love swimming as much as she does now.  I'm so glad that she felt she was able to openly talk to me about her feelings and concerns and know that I would take care of it for her.  That alone makes me tear up. 

Then we went to M2's violin lesson.  She's been taking lessons for nearly 4 years and has steadily made progress.  It's been almost four years since we started, and in the beginning neither of us had much of a clue about violins.  My sister is the violinist in the family.  Since then, we've come a long way.  M2 has begun reading music, knows various bowing techniques, and really does well during her lessons.  She needs a bigger violin again (this will be her fourth one in less than four years - we started with a 1/10 size, then 1/8, now 1/4, and we'll trade up to a 1/2 size), and her teacher was talking to her about some of the things she'll learn in the next few Suzuki books, including some of the higher registers on the violin.  She demonstrated, and within 10 seconds, M2 had stuck her fingers firmly in her ears.  The screeching was just too much!  Her teacher, thankfully, laughed and suggested that in a few years, M2 might want to switch to viola instead of violin.  Really??  More instruments and ideas??  I haven't really even broached that idea with M2 yet, since her teacher doesn't want her to even consider switching before middle school, but still...

Success is dangerous.  When you do well at anything, from parenting to swimming to playing an instrument, people notice.  They expect more.  If you're tall and look older than your stated age of 7 (or seem poised and ready for anything at the age of 30), folks figure you can take whatever they dish up.  And everyone has a different idea of what you should be doing.

I can only hope that my daughter, my son and I can figure out our own paths and not be led along by the ideas and dreams of others.  Knowing your own mind is a measure of success, too.


Beth said...

BUT.. kids will only reach what is expected of them. People will only go as far as they have to most of the time and if you expect very little - that's what you'll get. There's a difference between WANTING perfect and aiming for it and being horribly terribly miserable if you aren't perfect. You're teaching the girl balance and all is good :)

Sarah said...

Thanks, Beth. Sometimes I wonder if I'm teaching them balance AT ALL when I'm such an all or nothing person. It's good to know that someone out there thinks I'm doing all right. I appreciate you!