Once upon a time, I was one of those people who preferred dogs to kids. Then my friends started having babies and suddenly, I became a huge fan of the littles. I think kids are fun and funny and totally fascinating. They're budding little people with these adorable personalities, discovering new things with an enthusiasm that adults just don't have. What's not to love?
And because I dig kids so much, I pay attention to who they really are. I'll notice if one is warm and friendly, if another has a silly sense of humor, and if another is wise way beyond her years. I notice when a kid is particularly bright, incredibly imaginative, or a stellar athlete. Obviously, their parents know it too and are even more in awe. As they should be.
When another mom brags about the cool things her kid is doing, I don't mind at all. Parents should be able to share the joy they get from their kids, as much as they share the struggles. God knows, we complain about them enough–we should get a chance to gab about the good stuff too (and not just to Grandma). I'm fascinated by the amazing things a lot of these little ones are doing at such a young age, and I'll say as much. Although many of us women are completely unable to take a compliment about ourselves, we beam with pride when you say nice stuff about our kids.
But here's my big pet peeve: As soon as a mom tries to compare what her kid is doing to what my kid is doing, I'm over it. Brag, brag, brag to your heart's content, but please don't follow it up with, "Oh, your kids aren't doing that? Oh well, Junior is just really advanced. I'm sure your guys will get there." And if I'm proud of my boys for some cool thing that they've done, please don't try to one-up with something like, "Oh, Petunia was counting to 50 before her 2nd birthday." Blah, blah, blah, over it.
Look, I think it's awesome if your kid is a prodigy, but if you use his talents to somehow imply that he's better than my sons, take a seat. I will never, ever, ever think anyone's child is better than mine. End of story. Even when my boys are driving me crazy and acting like demon spawn, I still think they're the best little guys in the entire universe. Because they're mine. They're happy and healthy and they're mine. And I wouldn't trade them for the world.
I've actually never had much patience for competitive people, mostly because it used to make me feel badly about myself. I wouldn't sit there and go, "Wow, she's so amazing." Instead I would go, "Wow, I guess I suck then." I'm too old and tired to deal with that kind of BS now. At this point in my life, I prefer having friendships where we are honest and supportive and build each other up. I have no time for people who have to get at least one rung higher than everyone else. Their motives are transparent and annoying as hell. I never see their accomplishments–all I see is their insecurity.
And when it comes to my kids, I have absolutely zero tolerance for the compara-thon. It's not only a waste of energy, but it's not good for kids either. I want my children to do their very best and to be their very best. To actually be THE best though? That doesn't exist. It's an unrealistic, made-up expectation that only serves to make a child feel like he or she is never good enough. No thanks. It doesn't matter what my boys do or don't do or when they do it either–I'm so incredibly proud of them, without condition. No one can ever make me feel like crap about my kids.
So to the competitive moms out there, all I have to say is, "I'm sorry." I'm sorry that you can't see your child for the rock star that he is, without stacking him up against all of the other boys in his class. I'm sorry that your kid isn't good enough unless she's top-of-the-heap at drawing or math or singing all of the lyrics to "Let It Go" in both English and Mandarin. And I'm sorry that in your attempts to make sure that your son or daughter is "better" or even "the best," you've likely missed out on who he or she really is.