Today is my daughters 16th birthday. I can tell you exactly where I was 16 years ago today- in a hospital bed, recovering from 12 hours of labor followed by an emergency c section at 1 in the morning because I spiked a 104 degree fever. I’m still convinced she was holding out for the 13th because that was her actual due date. She’s that kind of person- always right on time. Childbirth. Good times. But anyway.
There is so much I could say about my daughter. It amazes me that she is actually my child. She is intelligent, funny, hard working, confidant and resilient. She does not always succeed in what she sets out to do, but she always tries and always bounces back. We often joke that we are not sure whose child we have actually brought home from the hospital, because she has traits that neither my Husband nor I possess. We figure that there is some high achieving couple out there with our slacker kid.
Now, I personally know 3 other people who have the same birthday as my daughter- just think back 9 months…..Valentines Day. Just saying.
But back to my amazing child.
She really is a good kid. Her birthday always falls within a week of first marking period report cards and parent teacher conferences. Now, for many kids, this might be a bad thing. For my kid, well, it means we will probably be extra generous. You see, my kid has literally never gotten a bad review from a teacher. I’ll even say, that if teachers were to have favorites, my kid is the favorite over 90% of the time. Am I bragging? Yeah, a little. My kid has made many things very easy for me. I walked in PT conferences the other day- in my 3 minutes per teacher allotted time, I heard mainly “Well, I’d like it if she participated a little more, because I think her input would help the class, but I know she is fully engaged, so I’m not too worried.” The two words that were most often used to describe my daughter are intense and focused.
But remember, with intense and focused come other issues. I have to make sure she is handling stress properly. I need to make sure she gets some sleep.
What I’m saying is- all parents have issues with their kids. The issues may be different.
Why am I saying this? Because frankly, I’m tired of being told that I have a “perfect” kid. Because first of all, there is no such thing. And secondly, I still have things to watch. Just because my kid does well in school, and is responsible doesn’t mean I have no worries. I have worries. Every parent does.
But, I am also tired of hearing that I am “lucky” because my kid was just “born this way.” First of all, what does that even mean? Does that mean that she was just born responsible and hard working and resilient?
Maybe it’s a little of both. Maybe there is something inside my daughter that gives her drive. But maybe I have also seen that in her, and thought about how to bring it out. Maybe I have helped her find her strengths and play up to them, and work around her weaknesses. Maybe I have had good moments of parenting.
Maybe it’s nature and nurture combined.
People are always talking about nature and nurture- which one is better, which one works. I’m suggesting that you need both. You need to have raw material, and you need to figure out how to coax it into the best possible shape. Take a box of Legos. Figure out the best configuration with what you have in front of you. Take what nature gave you and nurture it.
If you see your kid has a gift, or a talent, help that kid explore what it can do. My friend saw that his daughter had a great eye when she used his phone to take pictures. This was at 4 years old. He let her play with his camera, and at 8 she is becoming an exceptional photographer. He saw what she had, and figured out how to enhance it. And she loves being behind the camera. She struggles a bit in actual school, but her confidence is being built up because she found something she loves and is good at. Will this continue? Who knows. But right now, she feels good about herself. A child that feels good about themselves is a beautiful thing. That feeling is what will get them through the tough stuff. And life has a lot of tough stuff. So figure out what your kid is good at, what they’re passionate about, and help them explore it.
So on my daughters birthday, I have rambled quite a bit. I guess, because I didn’t really want this to be an ode to my kid. I think you all know that I love my daughter more than anything in the world, just like those of you with kids love yours more than anything in the world. That’s being a parent. We love our kids. We love them no matter what they do or don’t do, no matter how well they do at school, or at activities or at sports. We just love them because they are our kids.
to sum up:
Love your kids for all their imperfections.
Tell them you love them.
Help them find their passion.
Make sure you know there weaknesses so you can figure out how to deal with them.
Nurture their nature.
And Happy Birthday to my favorite girl!!!