ComparisonMy family went to the movies last week.  After we enjoyed the movie and were leaving the theater, there,  out of the darkness of the theater strolled five large figures; two adults whom we recognized, with three boys we marveled at.  The adults were long-time friends of ours from back in the pre-parenthood era, when we were just a couple of couples.  We had not seen them since our son was about 4 years old, and their three boys were about 5 and 2 (the youngest boys are twins).  As parenting responsibilities and life in general compounded, we unfortunately lost touch over the years, pausing only to send each other the obligatory Christmas card.  So we stood outside the theater and caught up a bit on what has been happening in our lives.  Our son is now in seventh grade, their oldest is an eighth grader and the twins are in fifth grade.  The striking thing to me was their oldest boy – the eighth grader is six feet one inch tall.  That’s a full inch taller than me and he’s still growing!  I haven’t had to look up to an eighth grader since I was in elementary school.  The young man wears a size 13 shoe!  Unfortunately he is not interested in playing sports.  It seems a shame to waste that great height advantage on the chess club.   It then occurred to me – not only am I not taller than an eighth grader, but I’m not smarter than a fifth grader either.  What’s happened to me?  My son and I play along with “Are you smarter than a fifth grader” on TV and have the home game on DVD.  I lose so often it’s practically habitual.  I don’t think I even  knew that stuff back when I was expected to know that stuff.  What’s a dangling participle anyway?    My son, however, is a bright guy and has no problem making honor roll in school, playing that game, or taunting me when he wins. After I got over the initial shock and awe at the concept of being both overgrown and outsmarted by a couple of early adolescents, it struck me – that’s the great thing about watching kids grow up. They all grow and progress at their own rate: height, weight, looks, coordination and so on (sometimes too fast for we parents). No matter where you are, there will be someone shorter than you, or taller than you, thinner or heavier, athletic or otherwise.  That makes us unique, and it’s just plain fun to observe the kids develop.  People generally progress at their own pace, so I try to put that in perspective for my son, Gus.  He’s surely not the tallest, the smallest, the fastest, or the slowest so it’s not really useful for him to compare himself with others.  When Gus is upset because someone consistently hits the ball farther, or when he gets unduly hubristic because of his own higher grades, I remind him that everyone has their own strengths.  I also encourage him to focus on that which he has the ability to control: himself.   The only person who could possibly be a better or worse Gus, is Gus.  I hope he gets that concept.  In the meantime, I think I’ll take my own advice, look up to eighth graders when necessary and then polish my third grade grammar knowledge – you never know when you might leave your participle dangling.

Jon writes our “When a Toddler Turns Teen” posts here on the blog because believe it or not, your adorable bundle of joy will grow up…

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One Response to “Compari-Son”

  1. Darren February 1, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    Nice post. Thanks for checking out my blog, Jon.