Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Push or Not to Push???
That is the Question!

I have always been ordinary. Always straddling the fence between being a "C" type person... average and "B" type person... above average. There have never been any "A" moments in my life... EXCELLENT! I am not a knockout beauty, I am not remarkably talented, nor do I posses exceptional character traits like abundant generosity, unconditional mercy or consistent self-sacrifice. I am simply ordinary. My parents never pushed me to be more than average. Though, I was never expected to be below-average, just being mediocre was o.k. They never sought to develop any hidden talents, never signed me up for a S.A.T. course to get in a distinguished college and never counseled me on how to ensure success in the professional world. And that wasn't wrong. I had a great childhood. I am a happy, well-adjusted adult. But I sometimes wonder what I could have been? Instead of being a moderately good cheerleader, maybe I could have harnessed the power of my height and been a star basketball player. Instead of an honor graduate, maybe I could have been salutatorian? Instead of going to a small school maybe I could have braved a large university or even grad school?

And now, I am the parent. I have four of my own children who I assume have great potential. They do not all possess the same talents, but each of them I am sure can be extraordinary in something. So how hard do I push? How do I translate the "what ifs" of my childhood into developing my children's fullest potential. And yet I don't want to relive my childhood through theirs. I don't want to make them run for class officer because I wish I had. I don't want to run them ragged from activity to activity because I want them to experience all I did not. Here is an example of my dilemma. Baby #1 is a good swimmer. Different coaches have suggested she may possess college scholarship potential... big college potential. My first impulse is to make sure she has every possibility to do that... send her to expensive camps, get her private lessons, make sure she is at training every day. Well, after two years of such a schedule Baby #1 is wanting to buck my system of swimming development! What to do? Her dad and I know that would be an amazing opportunity. She has a gift that has the potential of being something EXTRAordinary. Do I act "knowing what's best for her" or do I let her call the shots? Where is the balance between my ordinariness and her potential for extraordinariness? Where do my dreams overshadow hers? Does a kid even have the ability to realize the benefits of hard work in order to develop their fullest potential? Will she thank me for not letting her waste her childhood sitting on the couch watching "Witches of Waverly Place" every afternoon or for pushing her to excel at something other than backyard trampoline jumping? Or is being ordinary O.K.? Is it o.k. to look back and say I was good at lots of things but not really awesome at anything? Is being happy and well-adjusted the ultimate success? Having faith and family and friends and being content with God's extraordinary gifts.

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