Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Much of Me Is It?

The few days before Thanksgiving were parent teacher conferences at my kids' school. Because my 8th grader takes Freshman Algebra, I ended up talking to teachers from all three buildings in our little district. Every teacher spent little time talking about my kids' academics, saying mostly that they participate in class and are keeping up just fine.

This of course, is very nice to hear, especially being a teacher myself. The three Honor Roll report cards were amazing to see, especially because this year felt like a key year for them. My oldest took on higher level math and made a B. My eleven-year-old entered sixth grade fresh out of intensive math tutoring from last year. After spending her first five years of school struggling to do her best, putting in double or triple the work of others, she made honor role - pretty close to all A's even! And my youngest in second grade seems to be right on task after some reading tutoring last year. Yes, definitely bragging! They all faced their own academic challenges going into this year and they all came out on top!

However, just as important to me is what else the teachers had to say. They each praised my kids' personalities and character. The Algebra teacher said he is so proud of my oldest daughter's work ethic, that she is friendly and a pleasure to have around. He told me, "You've done a great job with her." Oh, well, thanks.

The Science teacher, who has both my daughters this year (in different classes of course), said the same about my oldest and added that my middle daughter is so friendly, inquisitive, and helpful. She loves them both. Same from the social studies teacher. Wow, okay.

My son's teacher talked the least about his academics and jumped right to telling us that he was the most compassionate kid in the class. His ability to empathize with others was truly touching. And she gave us examples to back it up. She couldn't say enough about him. Once again, "You've done a great job with him." Well, I know he's a sweetheart and all...

Well, I was glowing for two days of course. Nothing better than great conferences with your kids' teachers. But then two more conversations caught my attention on this topic. Had a great conversation with a friend the day after conferences, in which she mentioned how my kids seemed like good kids and had it together, so to speak (not her exact words...I was too caught off guard to remember exact words). I remember commenting, "They don't always seem that way to me at all!" She laughed and said she feels the same about hers at times.

The second incident was just today. We ran into my oldest's piano teacher and we talked awhile. She was also my piano teacher in high school. Her husband, who also gives lessons, said about my daughter, "She is a great kid. You've done a wonderful job with her."

These last two conversations are what really got me thinking about my kids - their accomplishments, character and even their much of me is it really? Years ago, when they were very little, I remember telling a co-worker I hoped my kids would grow up to be great kids like her daughters. I'd actually had her youngest as a student and they are great girls. She told me, "They'll be fine. The apple never falls far from the tree." I nodded and hoped I could be a better tree before they got much older!

I mean, I feel like I'm bumbling around, second guessing, randomly placing rules or giving liberties as we go. Even intentional acts on my part don't play out how I would like or think is best. And while I do have certain expectations, rules, and ways in which I lead their lives, I also feel like I mess them up as much as any good I contribute! And so, with them becoming such wonderful young people (I mean, six different people saying it in the same week? I'm going to take their word for it!), I wonder, how much of me is it? And what are the chances they can continue this way in spite of me?

Anyone else suffer from crazy parenting thoughts? Or have grown kids and have looked back and figured this all out? ;)


  1. And please understand, I am under no illusion that my kids are perfect! If anyone sees all the other sides, it is me. This was purely my musings about my role in their lives. That despite feeling like a screw up at this parenting thing, they seem ok. So really, what does that mean?

  2. "I nodded and hoped I could be a much better tree before they got older." Love it!

  3. I think what influences our children most is the environment we create around them. My husband and I are pretty quiet and easy with each other, so my kids are quiet too. Not one of them has ever raised his voice to me or called me a name, and they aren't defiant about the rules we lay down. The way we live together is a model for the way they live on their own.

    For the other stuff? I could be directing them much better, I suppose, but it's just not my thing. I've tried to instill a work ethic and a love of reading. I hope it's enough.

    1. I think you've nailed it Averil. Living by example. Do as I do, not just do as I say. This makes absolute sense...I think we, at least I, make things more complicated sometimes? Especially with a teenager now, I feel like I'm walking a line. Giving her freedom and yet keeping her in line.

  4. I have always said that if my kids screw up I'm not taking the blame and if they excel I'm not taking the credit. Well, my amazing daughters are smart, loving, empathetic, happy and successful and I'm taking the credit. It's all me baby, I did it. Notice humility was not one of the adjectives I used.

    It's you too Jennine. The whole apple thing, it's true. With kids, with just about everything, we get back what we give. You're doin' it right, be proud. Ah...just remember that sometimes those apples can be a little sour but most of the time they're 'delicious'.

    1. Reap what you sow mentality huh? Well call me Johnny Appleseed! Thanks!