Today was Brady's second preschool conference. As a (nerdy, teacher's pet) child, I loved conferences. It's where I got affirmation and a strong sense of self (I am competent! I succeed!). My mom was always super proud and excited, but then again, she was always supportive and encouraging regardless. As a perfectionist, though, I thrived in school as I knew exactly what to do to achieve my goals. As a parent, however, conferences make me a little anxious. In my husband's words, "I don't like someone else judging our children." We certainly know our kids aren't perfect. We spend a lot of time (okay, all our time) prodding, pleading, and threatening in order to teach them the skills they need (and sometimes, we actually model and nurture the traits we want to see). We spend our "couple time" rehashing the days successes and failures and wondering if we'll ever get through this phase or the next.
And yet, we're extremely proud of our two little ones. I just read that you can judge a lot about the adult a child will become based on who they are at age five. And we feel confident about Brady. He's a sweet and caring boy with a great creative side and an amazing mind. He's extremely stubborn, too, which sometimes can be a plus, like when he became determined to learn to read at age 3 1/2, and had basically taught himself by age 4 1/2. So I went into the conference expecting a lot of positives about our boy, and maybe a little tiny pat on the back about the awesome job we're doing as parents (but mainly I wanted him to be proud...I mean, who really needs affirmation of their parenting?...) I love his teacher and his school, and it has been a perfect fit for him. We've enjoyed watching him come out of his shell more, make friends, and thrive in the responsibility and independence the school nurtures. And the conference reinforced the school's high expectations. Brady was given a new list of goals, from improving his "scissoring" (as he calls it), to dealing better with the disappointments of friends not wanting to play what he wants and waiting for his turn. There was a brief mention of continuing his good work in literacy, but it was combined with a goal to become more independent and empowered in his writing and not need for it to be perfect (ahem, I wonder where he got that?). Instead of asking how to spell each word, he should just write it as he thinks it should be. So his teacher should be proud of the note he wrote to his daddy, translated from the above:
"Daddy, I have a piece of paper to color. Daddy, I want to tell you something. Daddy, I love you and Rye"
I've written before about the difficulties of parenting, but I see more and more that many of my struggles come from trying to differentiate my expectations for myself with mine for Brady, while trying to let his own goals guide mine. Ultimately, it's not up to his teachers (or his parents, entirely) to guide his path. We are giving him all the tools we can so that hopefully he can use them to build the beautiful life God created within him. And we stand by proudly, watching and cheering him on.