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.