The other day, I caught myself doing something I know I shouldn’t do — comparing my son to his peers.
I think it’s something all parents do; it just can’t be helped sometimes. And it seems easier and less wrong (which is horrible to admit) somehow if the comparison has your kid coming out on top.
However, when your kid doesn’t quite match up…well, it’s a different story. A couple weeks ago at preschool, the kids wrote letters to send in the mail. My son’s letter came addressed to Daddy, and since he was out of town for work, I left it alone so he could open it.
Throughout that week, I noticed a couple of parents from my son’s class sharing their kids’ letters on Facebook. They were completely handwritten by the kids, and it made me so excited to see my kid’s letter, which I also assumed would be completely handwritten by HIM.
When my husband arrived home a few days later, I eagerly looked on as he opened and read the letter. He reacted the way I wish I would have — with pure love and pride in his son. I, however, immediately noticed that most of the words were written by a teacher, with only a few written in by my son, and I felt a little pang of disappointment.
Believe me when I say that I regret this so, so much.
I never want to make my child feel like he’s less than others, and I told him his letter was awesome. I let my expectations get the better of me. I guarantee many of the other kids in the class could not write out their entire letters. I mean, come on…they are four years old and in the first of two years of preschool. Most of them just learned to write their own names this year (my son included), let alone any other letters of the alphabet.
What my son has learned this year amazes me. He’s become such a big boy and accomplished so many new things that have made me so incredibly proud. So he couldn’t write out all the words by himself — big deal.
I will always encourage him to try his best and push himself, but for now, he’s in preschool and all of this stuff is brand new. Every little new discovery and ability is awe-inspiring for me right now since he’s my oldest child.
When I look at that letter now, I see how fast my first baby is growing up and I feel the pride I robbed myself of the first time. And while we’ve got many, many years of school ahead of us for him and our other kids, and I’m sure I’ll fall back into the trap of comparison sometimes, I hope I remember this moment.
I never, ever want my children to feel like I think they’re inferior to others, and I don’t want to dwell on how they compare to others. My kids were specially hand-crafted by God to be who they are, and that is something I will always cherish. I will encourage them, and hopefully challenge them, as they grow. But first and foremost, I will love them unconditionally for who they are and what they’re capable of.
And the letter? It’s going on the fridge for now, and then to a special place later. It’s value can’t be compared at all anymore.