The conundrum of ability.

Do you think your kids are a projection of you? Do you sometimes feel fake when someone pays you a compliment because you don’t think you deserve it? Are you secretly ecstatic but have trouble accepting a compliment graciously? When does your child’s achievement become your achievement by virtue of it happening to your child?

It’s all super confusing but let me explain. V is academically very bright. He (right now) shows advanced capabilities in reading and math. He has a logical mind that runs completely different to my own while solving math problems but he has also been born with an ability to express himself eloquently in writing, a trait most likely coming from me or entirely his own (depending on whether you read this whole post or skip away).

These are all facts. I haven’t had anything to do with it. He’s an overachiever right now, and I have no idea if this is going to be his future or not, whether his life will be richer because of his abilities or not, whether his smartness will be compromised by his lack of people skills or be enhanced by it. I don’t know if he will grow up to be kind, humble, compassionate but still competitive and successful. Of course, I will hope that he will be a famous scientist or academic or mathematician one day who will be rich and respected and happy, all at once.

Now my question is this: When my child achieves something that is considered desirable by the society we live in, how much of the credit, if any, goes to me? And how am I supposed to behave in the light of his success? When he won a spelling bee last year, people congratulated me. I was undoubtedly super happy and proud of him — heck, deep inside I was proud of myself too (to hubby: See? See?) — but when friends said wow, he did great, I wasn’t sure how to react. If I said, “Yeah, I know!” I felt like I was almost tooting my own horn, like saying “See, my kid did it!” If I say something like it’s not a big deal, it feels like I’m negating his accomplishment or, worse, fishing for more compliments by being hypocritically humble.

Naysayers might say, hey, it’s not about you, it’s about your kid! But tell me this: who finds him these contests and spell bees to participate in? Who champions his cause when his less than stellar qualities are in the forefront? Who eggs him on to things he enjoys and doesn’t pester him for ones he doesn’t? Who loves him no matter what?

When he doesn’t meet eyes with someone talking to him or is rude to a friendly stranger, I take it personally. Maybe I should learn to also graciously accept credit for his success when someone attributes it to me? In all honesty, I probably had a little something to do with it anyway.


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