Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Growing up

As parents we face many many obstacles over which we need to lead our children. Equipping them to cope with the big old world out there.When they are the tiny little people we bring home it's drinking, learning to eat, sit, crawl, walk. Simple things that feels rather overwhelming at the time. As they grow up we think the challenges get less, and to an extend they do. But some challenges just gets so much more difficult to handle, when we sit with our hands in our hair, trying to figure out how to lead our children past the obstacles, some created by themselves.

Yesterday I watched my Princess participating in the English schools of Pretoria speech festival. Yes, she is in an Afrikaans school but they are one of two in the city which offers English and Afrikaans first language - a choice you make in grade 4 and hence, these two schools participate with the English schools in the festival. She delivered her little poem faultlessly and I am so very very proud of her.

 How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
(By CS Lewis from Alice in Wonderland) 
She was followed by one of her best friends K who did so well too - she is a natural little actress and has a big sister that has been here before, parents that knows the details of the event, what the judges are looking for. (This is not and event co ordinated by the drama department but by the English department and we as parents rehearse the kids) Well our Princess got a gold+ - a wonderful achievement (with 2 other girls) - my heart burst with pride and joy. But her friend and 2 others that both have older siblings got gold++. The other 6 participants got golds. The adjudicator in her speech mentioned that the quality was exceptional and that she is astounded by how great the group has done taking into account that they are doing better than most of the English schools. And then my child cried. Cried because she did not get a gold++. Forgetting how great her own achievement was, she just focused on not being the very very best. All the other kids, even those that got gold were so happy with their achievements as they should rightly be, but nope, not ours.

I really did not know how to deal with this - we stress in our home that your best is good enough. That we value being a good friend and a kind and honest person more than being the very best,. She just cried and cried, not matter what I said. She refused to believe that she did well. Then we bumped into the drama teacher who asked why she was crying and consoled her and explained the exact thing I did minutes before, and she stopped crying - and actually smiled. I am really not sure how to deal with this - why does she believe her drama teacher and not me? Why is she so very hard on herself when we clearly are not? How do you keep the balance in teaching your children to do the best they can, to strive to give their best and be the best, but in the same breath teach them that their best may not always be the very best there is?

Being a parent is never easy, and I know that some challenges will get more (thinking ahead of teenage years to follow). But this one is tough for me to handle - keeping the balance of striving for your personal best, but learning to cope with the inevitable disappointment. Both Hunter and I had a talk with her last night but I think that we need to have another because I just today though of using the Olympic games as an angle. That silver is also great, a country wide achievement and that just participating is an achievement.

And so we learn with them - all the time.


  1. WoW she did great (if only she would believe that).

    I was that child that your princess is now. I cried every time I didn't come first in my grade. Even when I came 8th in a class of 30+ kids after being sick for almost half of the term. I cried for days anytime I remembered I wasn't the best and refused to eat for almost 24 hrs. Wish I remember exactly what my parents did, but I'm quite certain they explained to me and ignored me after a while until I got over it. And then had the talk at every opportunity about how you have to do your best always but remember others also want to be the best and sometimes people would be better than you. Don't give up and strive for even better next time.

    Yes, I think the olympics is a good example to use to explain to her everyone who won a medal was happy whether it was gold, silver or bronze and even some people who didn't win were just too happy to be in the final because it means they are among the best in the world in their sport event.

  2. She did amazing! Wow!
    I can imagine why you are feeling this way. That she believes her teacher instead of you as her parents. I see that with my son as well. He rather believes his teacher than for us. It's heartbreaking, frustrating and sometimes it makes me cross because sometimes the teacher aren't right.
    I can't tell you whether she will get over this because my boy hasn't yet. Keep strong.

  3. My friend, it is not you or the way you're raising her. It's inbuilt.

    You see, I was A. I was always top of the class, top of the standard, and would be devastated if I didn't get full marks for things I knew I knew.

    And honestly, this is a topic for a blog post, because God is dealing with me BIG TIME on my issues.

    It freaked me out when I got to Rhodes and discovered I was not all that bright any more when I compared myself to the rest of the Bsc students. And when I was in the PE youth ballet, suddenly I was one of 16 good dancers for my age group, no longer the best, like at my ballet school. And so on.

    All I can say is keep on reinforcing that God (and you) only expects the effort from her and He will bless it all. That's grace.... and is what I'm learning at this very old age :)

    1. Thanks Marcia, I really had to hear this today.

  4. I think it is a wonderful achievement! We live in a culture of winning, unfortunately, and one of my most favourite (boring, I think) speeches to my children is not to win, but to take part and finish! That is something to be proud of!

  5. Gosh! I wish Cameron would react like this sometimes to be honest.

    He has never really had to work hard to be a good swimmer or a good cricketer or academic - he puts minimal effort in and gets the results. Now its biting him in his bum and his last 2 tests havent gone well :-/ BUT they don't seem to bother him enough to work harder - it is a constant battle ground in my house at the moment!!!

    The only thing I can say is keep boosting her. Keep reinforcing that you are proud of her when she tries her best!

    I am not competitive and neither was my brother so my frame of reference for this isnt great BUT David is UBER competitive and I can see him crying like A did especially if a friend did better than him. LOL if I beat him in a game he will play and play until he beats me 3 times - just so I know he is "better" than me :-p

  6. Sjoe Cat, let me know when you find an answer that works for both of you.

    I think of all the parenting lessons we have to learn that must be the heardest.

  7. This business of parenting / growing up is not easy hey?

    Well done on her Gold +! That really is pretty awesome and something to definitely be proud of.

  8. What a wonderful achievement...but she is a very competitive little girl. That will never change, must be build into her.

    I remember my oldest son doing gymnastics and when he wasn't happy with his scores or made a mistake...he would sit and cry. Very heartbreaking.

  9. Well done to your princess! She did very well. I wouldn't worry too much - Lynette is right, she is obviously competitive - I am sure she will relax more as she matures!

  10. She did so well! Which is awesome! Aai as to advice for how to deal with not being the best best, I have no idea.I think just constant reiteration. As for them believing a teacher over a parent, I think is quite normal, Gem does the same thing(but with her friends) or with her teacher who has said something which she has taken the wrong meaning of, and I sometimes throw in the 'who is older, me or your 4 year old friend??' hehe. Good luck!

  11. It's really tough, learning to deal with disappointment - but it's a good lesson to learn because accepting that even your best is not always THE best out there is something that even grown ups battle with.

    She did really great though! Congratulations to your princess.

  12. Congrats to your princess. She did so very well.

    As Louisa said, I think she's just learning to deal with the difference between doing her best and being the best.

    On the bit about her believing her drama teacher and not you, maybe she knows you will be pleased with her no matter what and rightly so because you're her mum but the teacher may have different checks and balances in her mind. Also, when have kids *ever* thought their parents know *anything*? :)

  13. Wow, great job A! Sounds like you have a little perfectionist on your hands. You did and said all the right things, in my opinion. It may mean more coming from the teacher as she probably doesn't feel, "Oh she's my mom and she has to say that!"


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