There is one main rule when it comes to your child’s development: Never, ever compare your kid to someone else’s. Ever.
Despite every single parent knowing that we shouldn’t engage in the behavior, we do. I tell myself all the time that it doesn’t matter what another kid is doing, my kids are just fine, thankyouverymuch.
But then I am around other kids, and I’m like, “Man, my kids can’t do that yet. What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with my parenting?”
The absolute worst environment to be in when you are going into comparison mode is a child’s birthday party at which nearly all of the bite-sized guests are attending an accelerated preschool program for children who are cultivating an interest in arts and music, aka they are basically mini Mozarts and Picassos.
Guess who went to such a party this weekend?
My friend and her husband are crazy talented, playing six instruments at once and singing with the voices of angels. Their son is probably going to be just as talented, and his birthday was cause to invite other similarly talented children plus my child who still claims “The ABCs” as his favorite song.
As someone who loathes small talk but also hates the idea of being a wallflower, birthday parties present quite the conundrum. I usually opt for making a joke about parenting and talking to whoever laughs.
That day, I was speaking to one mother when her teary-eyed daughter approached. All of a sudden, the two were engaged in a conversation totally in German. The 3-year-old girl switched between English and German with ease and then bounced away.
“OK, so she was raised bi-lingual, doesn’t mean my son isn’t super smart,” I thought.
My eyes searched the room for my little man, who had worked his way into the present pile and was staring longingly at them while picking his nose.
Fast forward to a conversation with another mother who was talking about children who tantrum in public.
“Finally,” I thought. “Something I can totally relate to.”
She starts telling me that her son threw a fit when she tried to pry him from a store.
“I mean, they had a keyboard sitting out, so of course he had to go over and start playing! He just learned a piece by (insert name of composer that clearly I should have recognized but didn’t.)”
Hmmm … her 4-year-old mastered a classic; my 4-year-old is pulling off his socks and smelling his feet.
We were fast approaching time for cake. My son and I sat at the table finishing up our dinner. I beamed with pride as he happily ate the vegetables I put on his plate.
“Ha, we win,” I thought. I mean, not every kid will eat vegetables, you know?
Then I overheard a woman say her daughter won the Nobel Peace Prize for writing a song that cures cancer.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, but I mean, that’s how a lot of those conversations sounded. It was either discussions about prodigy children or people speaking German. (The German sounded really good by the end of the night.)
We got in the car to go home, and I started questioning my parenting. Should I be working more with my son on things like math and writing? Have I failed him by not challenging him more?
Fortunately, my sweet boy interrupted my thoughts with a, “Hey, Mom?”
“What’s up, kiddo?”
“I want to tell you I love you. I love you so much today.”
Nah, there’s absolutely not a thing wrong with that kid. He is just perfect.