This parenting thing baffles me. Generally I’m so lost in a labyrinth of fuzz that I don’t even bother to think about it. But today, I’ll wander back in.
In many ways, I don’t have high expectations for my twins. I don’t expect (or want) them to be the top of the class, famous actors, or even Olympic athletes, although I have fleeting moments when I feel like pushing them down an icy luge track, with or without the sled. More than anything I want them to be normal, or (do I dare say it?) average.
I think my own perfectionist tendencies fell off the cliff when I was pregnant. It was not an easy pregnancy – two bouts of mandatory bedrest in a foreign country, far from my own mom. After the first crisis (bleeding at nine weeks), I panicked. When our Thai doctor did the scan, I just wanted him to say the word “normal.” Or, as he said in his accented English, “Nor-MAALL” (to get the approximate punctuation, it rhymes with “Sore-GAL”).
Every appointment from that point on, I would come armed with a paranoid woman’s list of concerns and he would gratefully answer, “Nor-MAALL, completely Nor-MAALL”.
Later, my husband would imitate me, “Doctor, I’ve grown a third eye and there are mushrooms sprouting from my ears.” “No worries,” my husband would continue his impression, “it’s Nor-MAALL.”
It was then, during those stressful months, that my husband and I hung up our Going-for-Gold armchair parenting mentality and switched to something more lackluster. We weren’t planning to Own the Podium; we were hoping to cross the finish line.
Thankfully, we did. William and Vivian were born with Apgar scores that were good enough.
Now, nearly six years later, I still try to retain this Ode to Nor-MAALL. It’s hard, though. The current parenting culture seems to pressure parents to schedule their kids with activities that would rival the agenda of a CEO. It’s confusing, though, because in striving for Nor-MAALL I don’t want to raise underachieving kids who don’t have the confidence to push themselves.
What do you think? How hard do you push your children?