On Braggart, On Boaster, On Doting or Smug?
Mim recently wrote a post about bragging. Bragging about our children. I occasionally read posts by bloggers asking why we don't brag and encouraging us all to brag about something in comments. What a great way to get comments... even the most dedicated lurker would come out for that one! (Speaking of which, why do I always miss delurking day? sigh. maybe next year. Meanwhile, if you are a lurking lurker and feel so inclined, feel free to delurk late - hey, I'm late, why not you?)
But getting back to this - Mimi talks a bit about why we might not brag. Is it merely that our culture dislikes a boaster, and teaches us it's better to be modest, that people will like you better? Well, that's a part, I'm sure. But she also suggests that it seems as if by extension, we are suggesting that other kids are not as good, that people will take it for nasty, CompetiMommy behaviour. Maybe so. But why?
Why is saying one thing is great suggesting that others are not? I am not talking about the others. In many cases, I may not know the others. I've noticed this in other circumstances, too. A staff member will be talking about someone else, mention that they are a great librarian, then say to me, "Not that you're not, I mean, you're a good librarian too..." in an awkward fashion. But why? Praising someone else doesn't reflect on me. You weren't talking about me. I know I'm a good librarian, but we weren't talking about me. Another librarian also being good at her job takes nothing away from me. In fact, it gives me a good colleague to trade ideas with and consult if I can't think of a good title. I love competent people.
Same goes for kids, right? Your kid being awesome takes nothing away from my kid's own fantasticosity. I don't know why we seem to see that as setting up competition. I don't think it is, in most cases, though there are those people, of course. You can hear it in them, I think, though. And that might be why I'm not too braggy here - you may not know me well enough to know I'm not all bitchy, and you can't hear my tone. You may not know that while I think my kid is terrific on many levels, it doesn't actually mean that I think she's the greatest child ever born, that all doors should be opened for her automatically on her approach, every rule should be bent because she is so special, and she should skip directly to Harvard because she is clearly a genius. No, I just really like my kid. I'm impressed with how much she has learned, how well she connects with the world and communicates it to us, how her imagination works. But maybe you couldn't tell that's all I mean from reading me. So yeah, I try to keep it subtle, too.
But whaddya think? Can we brag a bit without someone taking it the wrong way? And why do they take it that way? Insecurity? Certainty that their child is in fact better in every way? A competitive streak? Do they see their child as some extension of themselves, and are all crazy Type A (not good type a) about them? I don't really get it, frankly. We can all see our kids as amazing without thinking someone else's child is less. If we really knew those children, we'd think they were amazing, too, though with less of the haze of mommy love to make it really shine out to us. Truthfully, I know a ton of bloggers with awesome children. Children beautiful and clever, sweet and funny, willful and brave, musical and physical.
So next time I feel like bragging, perhaps I will just link back to this post to say, in shorthand, I know you have amazing kids. Mine is no more or less fantastic, and can we celebrate them together for a minute? Because I just have to tell you about this thing that made my heart expand out of my chest yesterday... And you are always welcome to tell me about your babe's latest impressive feats in return. Because they are all just so very, very mind-blowing, these children of ours.
Labels: parenting dilemmas