Because my niece lives with us , I feel I am one of the luckiest people on this planet. For those of you who don’t know me personally, my niece lives with us full time. So, I get the best of both worlds . I can be the free single soul or the designated playmate at will. As a single woman, I get to decide when I want to play and when I don’t. I even learned that being an aunt is like being a mom but with a cool twist. Unlike moms it is not the aunt’s responsibility to worry about school tuition, the medical insurance, or any financial burden that comes with raising a kid.
The aunt can just be the fun person who helps with homework, plays games, watches movies, reads stories, and listens to strange arguments while looking fascinated. She gets to do things with her niece that her parents never allowed her to do as a kid and she also gets to teach the kid things her parents didn’t have time to teach her. For all single women out there, do celebrate being an aunt. It is the best!
As my niece turned eight this year, I realized that being an aunt also gave me a free pass into the modern world of mommies and what a world that is. I can say that things have really changed since I was her age.
You see, when we were young my mom showed up to school only during parents day. However, we knew the rules. We knew that we had to study and we also knew that doing our homework was not optional. We also knew that we would be in big trouble if we didn’t do that. There were no elaborate meetings with the teacher, nor were there any discussions with other mothers about the school or the teachers’ skills. My mom did not stress about the school play or team tryouts, and guess what, we turned out fine.
in the mommy world of the 21st century things are different, some mothers seem to believe that their kids are in a jungle and that their 24-hour focus should be on their kids’ well-being in school. With this thinking, they would sacrifice their careers, their education, and their knowledge to be stay-at- home moms. They claim that their aim is to give their kids the best of their time, their energy, and their hearts and that is a noble cause indeed, But, I can’t help but wonder when caring becomes suffocating.
I don’t generalize, but yes some over- involved moms would not even give their kids the space they need to mess-up and learn. How can they mess up, when the moms come into class and argue with the teacher about every question their kids answered on an exam. I experienced this first-hand in my short teaching career but I didn’t survive long enough.
Never under estimate their influence, mommies can be powerful. They can wonder if the teacher is fair in her evaluation of their child, should God Forbid, the child get anything less than an A. They could threaten to pull the child out of the class, out of the school, or even to get the teacher fired if she did not miraculously make their kids geniuses within the first few weeks of the school year.
Of course such mommies all have one goal in life and that is for their kid to be “Top of his/her class”. Little do they realize that only one kid can be top of the class, and it is from this dilemma that the brutal competition begins. The mommies could go to school negotiate with teachers, compare notes with other mommies, and even compare teachers of the same grade all to make sure that their kid is the “best at everything”.
The war for the title of “best at everything” goes far beyond academics. Birthday parties too become elaborate affairs that involve jumping castles, giveaways, live entertainment, face painting, and a cake in the shape of a trendy Disney character. Class plays erupt wars of their owns as moms fight for their kids to get the leading role. These moms are in the front lines fighting for their kids, as they believe that their child should get the best and be the best.
So the question is, if all our kids are going to be the best at everything, who is going to stand out and who will be average. Doesn’t one person distinguish him/herself by standing out in a world of average people? So, if all of us want our kids to be the outstanding in all fields, who is going to be the best in one field? How will we give space for our kids to be good at art, music, history, geography, a language, a science , or math if at first and second grade we are filing their heads with information and we are introducing them to a competition beyond them.
The funny thing is , that it isn’t even the kids’ competition it is the mommies’ competition. Mommies may want to compete because the title “Best at Everything” justifies the time they have spent at home teaching their children and going over their notes. A mom going into school and asking about her kid five times a week will probably need something to show for it and that is why she would fight violently to ensure that her kid is the best at everything. Maybe, by sacrificing her life for raising the kid, she forgot that the success or failure of her kid should not be her goal. She did not realize that she should have goals of her own instead of living through the school life of a child. Maybe this issue raises the whole debate of whether or not parenting should be a full-time job. However, I am not the sociologist to go into that. It is just something worth thinking about.
So, are such mothers really fighting for their kids or are they fighting for their image. The love is definitely there , but do they really need to stress their kids this much? Who is the best at everything? The answer is no one, so why are they going into a competition for a cause that no one can achieve. Shouldn’t kids find their own strengths? If we start off their lives with this much competition, they will only learn to compete violently as adults too. Maybe this is why we are adults with attitudes.