It can feel a little awkward- your kid is better at doing something than someone else’s and you feel bad about it. When Reuben turned 1 people would say things like “I’ll bet he’ll be walking any day!” But he didn’t until he was 16 months old. Other moms & dads would then say things like “my friend Hermione’s baby didn’t walk until he was 21 months old!” like that was supposed to make me feel better? In contrast I can remember hanging out with another mom when he was three months old who got really upset because her daughter of the same age wasn’t babbling as much as Reuben.
This got me thinking about the question: When is it o.k. to express pride in your kid? Obviously you want to make sure to tell them that you’re proud of them when they do something that is praiseworthy. Though Reuben is only two I was so proud of him at dinner the other night when he wanted to pray for our Nigerian friend Usche who had only stayed with us for one night. I’m thankful and proud that he knows prayer is a normal part of our lives. I’m proud that he can speak clearly, is a good eater and picked up potty training pretty quickly. But I also had to wonder- how much of that is just him being who God created him to be? An ambitious little guy who has always been surrounded by people talking to him and has figured out that when he talks to them, they listen, laugh & think its ridiculously cute.
When Reuben was still a baby we wouldn’t even tell other parents about his sleeping patterns for fear they’d knife our eyes out- he slept through the night, like 6 hours at a time when he was 3 months old. Again, we tried our best to get him to have good sleeping patterns, eating patterns, etc. But we also know other parents who have done the same things whose kids still won’t sleep through the night at 2, who will only eat mac & cheese & can’t enunciate very well. These people are good parents! So I have to wonder how much of it is the kid just being who they are, and how much of it is the parent? Even if you don’t have kids, do you ever feel weird expressing pride over something you’ve done? Or do you dismiss it as “just something I do.” One of my friends Todd who started a clothing company Toddland is someone I admire that has a healthy dose of pride- “I make rad things” is his motto but he isn’t obnoxious about it. As Rob Bell once said about the gospel; “if you don’t even smoke the stuff you’re selling, what makes you think anyone else will?” true dat.