Get Em While They’re Young!

Milestones are a big deal when you are a baby. Babies may be droopy balls of giggles and drool, but they have a job to do with performance expectations. If they aren’t sitting up, crawling, popping teeth, experimenting with word sounds and sleeping through the night when others their age are, well, they have no basis for complaint when their quarterly and annual reviews come back lacking. We must teach them early on, though they may be unique with certain things, by no means can they be different and approach life at their own pace.

If we don’t do what we can to reinforce these messages early on, we’re just asking for trouble down the road. Some may eventually feel it’s okay to get married 10 years after their peers, or never marry at all. Others may linger in college chasing additional degrees when others their age have long since graduated and moved on to jobs. And what about the poor souls who spend years in a job they love and never aspire to be a manager. Don’t they realize someone younger may actually pass them and become their supervisor. That’s just wrong!

Hopefully you’ve detected a grain of sarcasm by now. Why am I being so strange today? A few cyber friends of mine have been struggling a bit with how their children are being compared to others. They are questioning their parenting skills and fighting embarrassment because their kids aren’t doing things at the same time or the same way as others. It’s so easy to fall into this trap. The interesting part is kids rarely are alike. Where does this expectation come from? As a society we seem to encourage people to be unique. Why does that not translate into us accepting when someone is different?

The grief we put ourselves and our children through when we feel the need to be the same (or better) than others is problematic in many ways. We’ve turned life into a giant race where we have this inner need to achieve bragging rights for ourselves and our children. The end result is a society where parents feel a need to make excuses for why their children aren’t doing things the same (Johnie has ‘blank’ and that’s why he is behind) while coming up with reasons to discredit the achievements of others (Mary only won because ‘blank’). Our kids don’t have to shine all of the time to be great kids. We can be excited when others accomplish things our children either haven’t reached yet or have no interest in achieving. We don’t have to make excuses for our children being unique and go searching for causes and explanations.

This subject is important to me because I grew up a twin. We never did anything at the same time. I walked and talked first. She reached puberty first. I was the one who was elected President of everything. She was the one whose art always hung in the hallways. She had a test taking phobia so I always smoked her on scores for the national placement exams (SAT, ACT). Our graduating GPA’s were within tenths of a percentage point of one another though. By the time we went to college, we were more than ready to go our separate ways. I won’t say we were enemies, but we certainly didn’t feel like friends. As the years passed, we continued to do things a different pace. She got her undergrad done before me and went on to get a Masters. I was out of school and working before her. She got married and had a child long before it was ever a consideration in my book. I was making more money. What did it all amount too? Who won the race between the two of us? Neither did. I think in our 30’s we both came to realize we could achieve different things at different times and no one was a disappointment or failure. What a happy discovery. And now I have a close friend I’m no longer competing against. How great it would have been to have started out that way.

4 Responses to “Get Em While They’re Young!”

  1. Kathryn says:

    Lisa, I can’t tell you how much that means to me. As a mother of twins, i am already seeing others’ need to ‘compare’ my babies. Almost daily we hear “…oh, she’s the smiley one’… or “…she is the fussy one’…

    I’m not sure what it is about twins that people like to compare them so much, it’s strange to me. I have two kids that just happen to be the same age. I know them for who they are, not for who did what first, etc.

    Having your perspective on what it is like to grow up as a twin makes me a better twin mom… Thank you for that.

  2. reeveslady says:

    Sometimes you just have to live in order to learn. Hope you had a happy Turkey Day!

  3. Lori's DH says:

    Isn’t funny that everyone would like to be “unique”, but nobody really wants to be “different”?

  4. lisa says:

    I know. The fear of being different starts early too. We don’t want our kids to be different so we teach them to fear it as well. Not just with words either. We teach them with the clothes we buy them, the toys we want them to play with, etc. It’s really quite sad.