Thursday, March 8, 2012

What? Not a Genius?

But at least we got some use out of the playset, dammit!
Yesterday was one of those days that shake my confidence to the very core of every decision I have ever made as a mother (do only I have those days?):  I endured my first less-than-glowing parent teacher conference.  I staggered out of that room like someone had punched me in my oversize gut - what?  One of my kids not doing well in school?  While this reaction may seem dramatic, I take the school stuff personally:  I have less than zero athletic ability, was a mediocre ballerina and perfunctory pianist, but SCHOOL?  THAT was the one thing I could do.  (PVT, he of the many advanced degrees and encyclopedic knowledge of just about....everything, was no slouch himself.) 

Slowly I replayed my son's short little life in my head, like a bad Lifetime montage:  did I sniff glue at six months gestation?  (No!  Sure, there was a verboten glass of wine or two during that particularly endless nine months, but I've snuck some of that naughtiness with ALL of them!)  Did I leave him in a cardboard box for a week during a critical phase of development?  (No!  I am never going to win Mother of the Year, but I don't totally suck!)  What did I do wrong?  I breastfed him for over a year!  PVT and I read to him religiously; I've bought every Batman book ever written!  He didn't even languish in day care like his brothers!

Once I talked to PVT  (oh thank God for that one other person who loves and cares and obsesses about your children as much as you do!) and calmed down a little, I began to think a bit:  this little guy is by far the youngest in his class (since I don't believe in red-shirting boys with summer birthdays just because everyone else does it).  He is also very reluctant to guess or answer a question unless he is absolutely sure he is correct.  And I think that after being a 24/7 witness to the often brutal competition between his brothers, he has perhaps unconsciously developed other skills just to set him self apart - his improvisational comedy act, his penchant for dropping big, dramatic words into conversations, and his knack with the ladies, for instance.

So in the end, I don't think there is a huge problem; I think he is just developing a little later than his trailblazing brothers.  But if there really IS a problem?  Or if school just doesn't turn out to be his "thing?"  Argh.  This is where I must remember (oh how HUMBLING motherhood is) that it is not my job to hammer and mold all of them into eventual Silicon Valley titans, or neurosurgeons, or flashy Beverly Hills divorce lawyers sporting $3,000 Gucci suits.  It is my job to help each of them develop whatever talents they have to eventually become good, responsible, productive members of society.  Success, especially with many children, will not be breeding a bunch of hothouse flower concert pianist computer scientists.  It will be seeing the day that they are all out muddling their way through the world, on their own, hopefully making good decisions and not, say, getting DUIs or robbing liquor stores.  Success will be not supporting a 28 year old son still living at home whose only hobbies are playing Wii and venturing out to snort things with his mates behind Quiktrip.

So PVT and I will continue to prod and gently encourage and adore the freak out of our goofball boy as we always have, but in the end that's all we can do.  Hopefully it will be enough.