You Win, Your Kid is Amazing, Now Can You Go Talk to Someone Else

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Okay, who am I kidding? I know the parenting competition season is year round, but at least in the summer you’re less up and close personal with the participants and trust me I need that break. It’s merciless out there. You’ve got everything from the high school parent who specializes in class rank news updates to the elementary school mom that has an excel spreadsheet of her little cherub’s academic and extracurricular schedule and a corresponding pie chart of his world domination areas of expertise.

To celebrate the, sort of, end of the parenting competition season I’ve compiled a list of awards that acknowledge the very best in this year’s Parental Preening Hall of Fame.

All hail the One Upper Interruptus. This parent is like a heat seeking missile. You could be across a parking lot and if someone asks you about your kid and you share just the briefest tidbit of accomplishment, like they made it to school on time, the One Upper Interruptus will pick it up on their radar and fly in for a direct hit that doesn’t waste time with any social niceties, but instead goes in for the kill. As in, “Well, my little mini me has not only perfect attendance, but also is curing cancer while playing three select sports and taking eight AP tests.”

My only response is to dig through my purse for eye drops so I can lubricate my corneas from all the eye rolling that ensued.

If your kid has ever put on a shirt with a number on it you’re well acquainted with the Spork – sp(orts) + (f)ork. The Spork is a sports parent so over the top that they need to a) stick a fork in it (i.e. shut their pie hole) and/or b) give you a spork so you can repeatedly stab yourself in an effort to alleviate your misery from listening to them.

I feel like it would be a public service if every Spork got 60 seconds of group adulation at the beginning of the year and in exchange for all the parents repeating in unison, “I get it, we all get it, your child is God’s gift to nine-year-old soccer, volleyball, swim, baseball etc. we would then be blissfully left alone from talking to the Spork the rest of the sport’s season.

If there’s a reading log or a volunteer hour form to fill out beware of the Truth-aphobic. This parent just can’t help from going a little rogue on the whole hours accomplished detail. Maybe their remedial in their math skills and simple addition has always been a problem. Or perhaps, they don’t grasp that most fundamental concept of one-hour equals 60 minutes. Whatever the issue, all I know, based on two decades of parenting, is that the person that’s fibbing on the elementary school summer reading log is also going to be massaging the numbers on that high school NHS volunteer sheet.

Dear Lord, hear my prayer and save me from the Listicle parent. This mom or dad lives to share their child’s “stats.” Be it everything from batting averages, touchdowns, goals to dance awards and ugh, academic rankings the Listicle has up-to-the-minute information on where their kid stands in the universe. I’m not exaggerating when I say a part of my soul died the day my daughter’s high school made it possible for parents to check their kid’s daily high school class rank on line.

I know we’re a standardized test driven society and who am I to call out venerable education institutions that use those tests to create moneymaking programs. The Duker parent (as in Duke Talent Search, not that there’s anything wrong with that and never mind that almost every kid I know has, at one time or another, during their late elementary and early middle school career gotten a letter from Duke about their “Talent Identification Program”) believes everything they get in the mail.

Here’s the deal. Not every four-color, glossy, college brochure and booklet your kid receives via the US Postal Service signifies that he or she is a shoo-in for acceptance. In its most fundamental form all it means is that your child is on mailing list and that the colleges sending out all that crap are responsible for 25% of the world’s deforestation.

Now, to all the parents that made it into the HOF all I have to say is congratulations and will you please, please, stick a spork in it.


I Get It, We All Get It, You Have Perfect Children

52f573eecbcd40b644ceba5e025b75dcCan we all just get over our kids? Yeah, we love them. They are the moon, sun and stars. The air we breathe. And yes, I know parents should be obsessed with their children. I do believe that’s part of the child-rearing creed. What I want to point out is that while it’s super that your addicted to your brethren please don’t expect me to be. In fact, there may not be anything more boring than a mom or dad whose sole topic of conversation is about their amazing kids. For the love of all that is holy just give a rest. We get it your kids are the best and the brightest or at least in your brain they are.

I’m curious to why parents feel the need to continuously sing the praises of their offspring? Why does anyone imagine that other people want to hear, pretty much all the time, about your wonderful children? I love my kids and guess what? I, as their mother, sometimes don’t even find them that thrilling. So, I would never assume that other people would be enthralled by their “achievements.”

Things came to head this week when a couple of moms figured out that you could find your high school child’s current class rank by going online and signing into your school’s parent account. I currently don’t know the class rank of my own daughter, but I do know about 15 other kids rankings because they’re parents won’t shut up about it.

I want to tell these moms and dads to calm themselves because their kids are only high school freshman and if I’ve learned anything it’s that high school is a marathon not a sprint. Get back to me in your child’s senior year and then I’ll act impressed. If you’re lucky I’ll add in a high-five.

What a lot of moms and dads need to do is come out of the parenting closet. Oh, it takes guts, that’s for sure. Not many of us have the courage to share the unedited, non-scripted version of our child. A couple of months ago I was volunteering at a high school and a group of theatre moms were talking about their children. I was hanging back, being new to the theatre mom arena, and just listening in.

My initial take away was that theatre moms might be the most hard-core, ruthless parents I’ve ever come across. And that’s saying a lot because I’ve been everything from a soccer/volleyball/baseball/dance mom to a competitive Lego club parent (you’ve haven’t lived till you’ve witnessed two parents chucking limited edition Lego Architecture bricks at each other. Note to everyone – don’t get in the way of a dad attempting to get his kid qualified for the Lego World Robot Olympiad). The mothers were engaging in rapid-firing one-upping and as I was keeping score it seemed like the musical theatre moms were getting in the most verbal punches. Not that the one-act play parents weren’t giving it all they had, but bless their hearts they couldn’t keep with the wannabe Broadway bunch.

Then, out of nowhere, a mom mentions that she just “hopes her son graduates high school.” As soon as she said that everyone froze, like we all weren’t sure of what we had just heard. I was ecstatic. I do believe for a moment I fell in love. I wanted to get down on one knee, propose and run away with this courageous woman. Instead, I looked at her and said, “You are my hero.” And I meant it. She had boldly went where almost no mom with a kid born in the 21st century has gone before – to the alternative universe where parents are honest.

I naively thought this would open up the discussion to being more than a contest about whose kid was most likely to get a Tony award by 2022, but I was wrong. The other moms’ just shook off the blast of candor like a dog inadvertently misted by a lawn sprinkler and continued on with their kids’ greatest hits.

I don’t mind a parent being proud of their kid. What I’m confused about is why that’s all we can be. Why have we as parents congealed and hardened into one, big, unyielding igneous rock of, “my spawn is more awesome than yours?”

We’re cheating yourselves and our kids. Honesty is good for friendships and families. Parents need to be able to vent and ask for advice from other souls in the child rearing trenches. As it stands now we’re all afraid to show any weakness so we either say nothing or disguise our children’s realities like an airbrushed selfie – too perfect to be true.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂