Karma Wears a Tutu

I’m going to admit what I hope is a dirty little secret among most moms: we like to think our kids are better than other kids. Even though we know it isn’t nice, we look for opportunities to compare and congratulate ourselves that our little ones are smarter, better behaved, more talented. (Please say I’m not the only parent who does this! Oh, I feel like such a terrible person…)

I know where this urge comes from. We want our offspring to have an edge in life. But more than that, we seek validation of our own parenting skills: “Look at that unfortunate family. I’m so grateful we don’t have to deal with that problem because WE taught our kids better.”

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a parent, it’s that parenting will make you humble! It will take all those self-righteous things you like to believe about yourself and rub your face in them until you’ve been broken like a wayward puppy dog. Case in point? The Ballet Recital.

My three-year-old just completed her first year of ballet. Every Saturday, she’d head into the studio to play butterflies and learn her plies, while I sat out in the hallway, observing with the other mommies. Few settings are as ripe for self-righteous child-comparing than this. “Oh, look – that little boy can’t behave. Methinks a spanking is in order.” “Oh, dear – that little girl keeps interrupting the class by running out of the room to cry to her mom. Thank goodness my child doesn’t need to be coddled like that.” For the most part I kept these thoughts to myself, though with my non-existent poker face, I’m sure I let my disapproval show on a couple of occasions.

And then came… the Ballet Recital. Now every child has her challenges, and my daughter’s is making it to the potty when the urge to pee hits. Actually, that’s sugar-coating the situation. Sometimes the child just refuses to pee until it’s too late. And then it’s accident city. Since her ballet school is affiliated with the Cincinnati Ballet, parents weren’t allowed backstage unless they were approved volunteers–union rules. I knew M would be without me for a few hours, so I tried to make sure she used the bathroom before we left for the theater.

Well, the recital was adorable. She loved it. She danced her heart out. And afterward, she told me she’d peed “a little” in her tights before going onstage. Most of her accidents are barely noticeable dribbles, so I didn’t think another thought about it. Then, at her next lesson, her ballet teacher said, “Did M tell you about the accident she had?”

“Um…” I stammered. “No…”

Like fruit flies to a rotten banana, all of the parent volunteers swarmed around me. “Oh, is your daughter M? She totally wet herself! We had to take her costume and put it in the dryer just so she could get her picture taken. Oh, hahaha! Wow, it was quite an accident!”

And so on. Suddenly I was the mom with the unfortunate problem. My kid was the one people were talking about. And I’m sure all of the other moms were thinking, “Didn’t that girl’s parents potty train her? At least my child can refrain from peeing all over herself!”

Oh, the humility!

Have I learned my lesson? Yes, but the sad thing is that I should have learned it along time ago. Like I said, every child has her challenges, and those on the outside have no idea what steps a family might be taking to help overcome them. It’s best to practice patience and try to quiet that evil little voice that wants to make those evil little comparisons. ‘Cause I’m here to tell you, karma does exist–and it wears a pee-stained tutu.

12 thoughts on “Karma Wears a Tutu

  1. You are most definitely NOT the only parent that has these thoughts/feelings. You’re just wise enough to admit them. When kids enter school and the world of team sports, the kid-comparisons fly even faster and more furiously. Remember the humble attitude and good karma will start coming your way … with no pee stains!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t have these feelings about my son. I freely admit he struggles with some things, and doesn’t with others, and that this might change a million times in the years to come.

    When I feel another parent bettering up their child, I just don’t participate. I compliment them for the fine job they have done, as they seem to need it, smile, and change the focus of the conversation.

    I don’t say this to make anyone feel guilty, or less, I say it in hopes of encouraging more people to “come out” and simply put aside these thoughts/feelings, and know that it isn’t a healthy habit for ourselves or for our children.

  3. Wow- anonymous is a better person than I… I think these feelings are normal. My son is only 5 months old and I find myself looking for validation that he’s on track and I’m doing a good job all the time. And it often means comparing what he’s doing with what other babies of similar age are doing. I really don’t think that it’s malicious or a particularly unhealthy habit unless you go all self-righteous on other parents, which it certainly doesn’t sound like you do. (Though it does sound like some of the other parents did it to you, at least a little.) Just my two cents! Loved this post!

  4. The Spunky Mommy says:

    I read the entire post giggling and burst out with your last line ending. Brilliant!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was afraid that others, like Cari, would jump on my post as somehow being holier than thou’ish, despite my disclaimer otherwise. I was simply being honest, as was the OP.

    I would hate to be the “me, too, me, too” type of person just to make someone else feel better. Fact is, not everyone DOES have these types of thoughts. Not all parents do this. I struggle to work against generalizing comments/statments, be they gender based, mommy based, etc.

    *sigh* I had really hoped that being honest, even if it meant having a different opinion, would be okay here.

  6. Hey, Anonymous, being honest is totally OK here! I didn’t take offense to what you said. I’m glad you offered a different perspective.

  7. Sara, I think you’ve got a great book title there. “Karma Wears a Pee-Stained Tutu.” Love it. I admit to comparing and wanting my kid to be the best. It’s human nature. I try not to be obnoxious about it.

  8. just4ofus says:

    hilarious! every parent wants the best for their kids (and most of us think this way!) I am totally judgemental at times! noone is perfect and whatever.
    i think it’s funny that she peed her tutu, but it sounds like the ballet people were on it like they’d had that happen before: )
    P.S. to anonymous… your honesty is great, however you have to let and expect others to offer thier opinion back to you w/o you taking offense. Dish it out and take it.

  9. I really do think my daughter is the prettiest child ever to grace the face of the earth. (Well… she IS.) But, like Anonymous, I really enjoy other people’s kids too! I love to see what my friends’ children are good at (even if mine isn’t yet) and I really do think that other people’s kids are awesome too. I’m not threatened by the fact that one of them used 150 words regularly at 18 months when mine only used 5. (Worried a bit, but not threatened.) I celebrated his success! I think this competitive, comparing thing is really only a problem if one does it constantly and publicly. But we really must learn to applaud all the kids for their strengths and support them in their weaknesses whether they are ours… or not.

  10. I had some bad Karma/good Karma last week. But it wasn’t in a tutu.

    I secretly have thoughts that my children are “awesomer” than other children–I think that’s normal. But then I’ve also been the embarrassed parent of a screaming toddler, who doesn’t care if the whole store is looking on. Not so awesome.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Robyn- I think I love you. 🙂

    You stated my thoughts exactly- WAY better than I did. WAY.

    See? I am not perfect…and I still manage to carryon.

  12. there is nothing like having children to keep you humble! i loved this post. honesty and humility are two great things.

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