Sitting in the stylist’s chair last night, the gal that “beautifies me” was periodically texting her child’s teacher and talking to her 10-year old, who was finishing up the work day at the salon with her mama.
Her daughter reminds me a lot of mine. Sassy. Bit of a know-it-all. But sweet. And very much a “little adult”.
The teacher texted my stylist back, explaining where some of the grade struggles seemed to be happening, but also told her that her daughter’s behavior was much improved. (Apparently, she likes to talk in class. 😜)
When it was just us two in the room, she told me she didn’t know how to get her to focus more, and lamented over the grades her child had received in the last couple of weeks.
Yesterday morning, I was elated to learn of some of my own daughter’s academic savvy. And I’ve been extremely fortunate that she’s never really struggled with academia.
But I struggle with how and when to express my pride in things like that.
Grades are important, certainly. But they aren’t of UTMOST importance.
It seems as though, despite what we know about how success doesn’t necessarily breed happiness, we are still an achievement-focused society.
I’ve been guilty of that focus in my own life, and in my parenting. It’s an easy trap in which to fall.
But the things that make me proudest of my daughter are the moments of unselfishness. Of being able to find the humor in things. Of working hard at whatever she is doing, simply for the satisfaction of doing all things well. Not for reward, but for the inner joy that stems from being our best selves.
Achievement can be part of that, certainly. But there is, within achievement, (as always), the need for balance. Grounding. A pulse on the things that actually matter in the grand scheme of the journey we call life.
I remember when my daughter was the same age as my stylist’s. Those were some trying years. Lots of arguing. Lots of butting my head against the brick wall of trying to steer my child in the direction, both behaviorally and academically, that I thought best.
I know her potential. She’s smart as hell and stubborn, too. That combination can be either beneficial or detrimental, depending on the circumstances. She could use it to become whatever she wants to be, or she could let the drive for perfection keep her from it.
I’m trying to be the type of parent that shows her the difference. Guide her through these types of lessons, which, is much harder than helping her pass an academic test. But they are tests of another sort, and much more important than any grade she will ever receive on a transcript.
Striking the balance of continuing to guide her, while also allowing her to figure out who she is, who she wants to be, is difficult. Because I have perfectionist tendencies too. And there are decisions ahead for her that will set the trajectory for the rest of her life.
But, looking back, despite my mostly sheltered adolescence, my parents seemed to recognize the stubbornness of another young woman on the brink of growing up. Another “know-it-all”. And they let her make her choices.
I made some doozies. How all of us got through them….well, a lot of grace.
But I can live with my past choices because I know, deep down, they were mine. My own parents only ever wanted and continue to want my happiness and contentment.
That’s all I want for my daughter. And all of our daughters and sons.
May God grant us the grace to keep perspective on what is truly important. During the testing, and beyond.