What I Want My Kids to Know About Being “Average”

A simple definition of average is: Someone who is just like everyone else; a normal person.

What?  That can’t be.  When did it happen that we just don’t celebrate normal anymore?  I’ll be the first to admit it, and shout it from the rooftops…”I am not perfect, and I’m pretty much average”.  My husband and I grew up in the Midwest.  We went to a college in state that was the right fit for both of us.  We had wonderful experiences, played college sports, traveled abroad, and landed great careers after graduation, and I couldn’t begin to tell you what SAT score was needed or what the acceptance rate was?

We need to reassure our kids that it's just fine to be "average."

You didn’t go to an Ivy?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I support challenging academics,  and always putting in the effort and doing your best and setting reach goals….but, not everyone is an overachiever who can do 5 AP classes, 50,000 hours of community service, be the captain of every sport possible, and score nearly perfect on the SATs.  I think back to my SAT.  I had my #2 pencils in hand, a pink eraser and my dad dropped me off.  I didn’t do any prep that I can remember, and I didn’t take it a second time.  What?  That’s crazy talk.

Average Joe is ok!

I went to public high school in a nice suburb with a great school district outside Milwaukee.   We had various course offerings, and like any school, there were the kids in the class who were uber-smart.  We all knew them….heck, maybe you’re reading this and was one of them…..

Back when I was in school,  the Gifted and Talented program launched.  I remember my mom and dad talking about it one night around the table. Gifted and talented seemed to be quite the buzz for a while.  I can still remember being called up to the ‘blackboard’ to solve a problem in geometry….and to this day my hands get sweaty and heart rate goes through the roof. I can’t imagine today the pressure on these kids, with the social media component.  That makes my heart race even faster.

Can you remember your high school valedictorian? I remember ours. He went off to school in California.  For a Wisconsin kid like me,  I thought the coolest spot on earth I could every go to was Maine and eat lobster….so a kid that I knew heading off to UCLA was amazing!

What happened after that speech and how his life turned out, I have absolutely no idea. I wish him well, and I’m sure he’s doing amazing things…but I hate to admit it, I did attend a few reunions, and honors classes, or being gifted and talented just didn’t come up.  Shocking!  And how can it be that nowadays there is more than one valedictorian?  For example, let’s take Dublin, Ohio and the class of 2015 there were 72 valedictorians.  Google the article…it’s worth the read.

Just keep swimming…..

When did this hamster on a wheel mentality creep into our everyday cadence of life?  I just recently got my youngest son’s class options for 9th grade.  Now let’s think about most boys this age…or maybe it’s just mine that at times forgets to brush his teeth or put deodorant on…well, he can take a zillion honors classes.  Really?  He’s only 14.  Is there a need to have sleep deprivation at 14?

I thought that happened junior year. (trying not to be sarcastic) There’s enough white knuckling parenting that comes along the high school journey….why do we have to have heaps on stress starting in 9th grade at 14?

Now all kidding aside….something has to give.  Let’s be honest, there are many talented, smart kids out there, but at the end of the day – most of our children are pretty darn…

wait for it….

do I even say it….

AVERAGE!

They’re pretty normal…..and that’s OK!  We have to begin to remember back when we were 14. I know I’ll get the argument that times have changed….and it’s different now.  But the brain of a 14- year -old boy or girl is still developed just the same as it was when we were that age.

Is it necessary to have our kids on a million travel teams? How many of our kids go on to compete at a college level?  Is it that important to miss a family vacation because your kid might get benched a game or two?  Do we have to enroll our kids in college prep courses, and tutors, and the list goes on and on.

What happened to getting home after school and eating our snack while watching an After School Special on TV?  What happened to eye contact and conversations?  What happened to summer vacations that were just that….time to sleep in.

Maybe I’m just one of those moms that is yearning for this all to just slow down….maybe I’m not living in reality of the times….but to be honest… I’m doing ok being that mom that makes the kids put their phones away at meal times.  I’m ok with reaching out to the coach and letting them know that we are going away to be with family and my kid might miss a game or practice for a week.

The confidence and competence of our kids has to match….we have to be able to raise our kids to be responsible, caring adults that can contribute to society in positive ways.  We also need our kids to be able to know how to change a bike tire, talk on the phone, and, most importantly, we need to allow them to know they’re OK!

Average is normal…and normal is OK!

Just be the best version of you

and

be happy!

Related:

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Graduation Party Ideas: How to Celebrate Your Senior’s Big Day

Amy Schmidt has been married for 25 years to her college sweetheart and has three big kids….ranging from 14-20 and they all tower over her. She’s convinced it’s something in the water.

She left her professional career in journalism and PR to raise her children and has moved 11 times all over the country and the world. She took on the role of trailing spouse. She has written many articles over the years and enjoys her time as a freelance writer.

Amy is also an independent business owner with a skin care company to empower confidence in women. She lives in the beautiful town of Ridgefield, CT and walks the tree-lined Main Street as often as possible. Find her on Facebook 

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