At my 8 year old son’s “Poetry Slam” this week, I didn’t know what to expect. Jamie, my baby, hadn’t talked much about what he had prepared for the big event. As each child took his/her turn, I heard lovely poems about trees, moms, dads, nature. When Jamie got up to read his poem I switched on my iPhone to start recording.
He stood at the front of the classroom, crowded with 3rd graders and their parents, and with an impish grin, stated the name of his poem: “Jenna – A Rapping Poem.”
And then he started swinging his hips wildly back and forth while reciting his “rap” about his beloved older sister, Jenna. The whole room burst out laughing so no one could hear the words of his poem, but that was ok, because the words didn’t really matter. I laughed so hard that my video is messed up… I could not hold the camera still. I could see the pride on my baby’s face. He was original and real, and he made everyone laugh.
It was a precious, priceless moment for me. I was so proud of my little guy for being himself up there. We sometimes joke about the slightly different expectations of him, given he’s the 4th child. I can admit that while he is good enough student, he is not particularly serious about school, and you know what? I am totally ok with that.
So when one of the moms approached me afterward and made a snide comment, which I will not repeat here because she might read this blog, I was flabbergasted.
So let me go on record with something. If my kid being funny in the poetry slam doesn’t fit into your mold of what a “good student” looks like, then listen… I don’t give a crap. I have never heard of a study in which 3rd graders who were serious about poetry went on to find success, happiness and love later in life.
Here are my desires for my kids: I desire for each of them to be themselves, to live with open hearts, to find happiness and love, to find success as they define it.
If my 4th kid is funny, if he makes light of the poetry slam, you know how that makes me feel? It makes me feel proud. It makes me feel like celebrating him. Because he is not afraid to be himself. He is not afraid to look silly. Having fun is an important part of life for him – imagine that! In my opinion, we need more people like Jamie in our stressed-out, perfectionist world.
There was a time in my life when I thought the most important qualities in my kids were their intelligence, and their ambition to succeed in school and in their extracurricular activities. I now know that was a projection on my part; if they were successful, that meant I was successful as a mom.
Now I know that nothing is more important than my kids learning to be themselves. Their imperfect, sometimes silly, sometimes smart, sometimes funny little selves.