Resisting the urge to compare

It’s the hardest thing for parents to do.   They hear about what other kids are doing and immediately compare them with their own children.    This is particularly true when it comes to what the kids are learning or the things they ‘know’.   When we first started going to our Wednesday playgroup, which is comprised of homeschoolers and life learners, I would come home exhausted from fighting off my school brain.   School brain got stimulated during these afternoons by the group of moms who would sit around and either compare curricula or talk at length about the types of things their child was currently learning at home.

(As a quick aside, last week I was sitting and talking with one of the other life learning moms, who was contemplating buying a book called ‘Times Tales’ that some of the homeschoolers are raving about.   It teaches multiplication.  She said, “I think I can get it on Amazon.”  I looked at her and she started to smile.   I said, “Are your boys really going to use it?”  And then she laughed and said, “no, probably not.”   I said, “You’ll buy it and then it will sit there taunting you until you stuff it in the closet because no one ever uses it.  Save your money.” )

Anyway, in the early days I would sit and listen to the conversations about lessons and be completely intimidated and overwhelmed.    I don’t anymore.  Want to know why?   I no longer listen to those conversations.   I still hang out there on Wednesday afternoons while the kids play, and talk about anything, everything else.  But if the conversation turns to lessons, I pull out a book or some knitting and take my mind elsewhere.

If you had been in our apartment today, this is what you would have seen:  For a large part of the afternoon, Ben played with his Lego.  Which means you could hear dialogue, sound effects and singing as his Lego Samurai fought their battles and did whatever else they do.

Maya put together materials for a meeting she is holding here tomorrow night.   It’s a meeting of The Donators, which is the charity group Maya and her friend Maya founded.  They are going to discuss becoming a bona fide non-profit organization so that they can solicit donations on a website.    (In case you are interested, they are currently raising money for Heifer International.  Their goal is to raise $500 by the end of July in order to buy a cow for a family in need.   In a few days I should have a web address for them.)

Then, later in the afternoon, Maya edited two videos.   Episode 18, I think, of The Funnny Show  (yes, she spells it with 3 ‘n’s because the regular spelling was already taken on YouTube), and another American Girl doll fashion show.    After dinner, Ben filmed a couple of mock advertisements with his digital camera, and then Maya spent a good 90 minutes teaching him how to edit it on iMovie.  Usually she does it for him, but he’s gotten to the point where he wants to do it on his own.   And my daughter, who is not always patient with her brother, has been helpful and constructive and Ben has thanked her several times for her help.

Can I compare this to doing lessons in Science or Math?   Or to voice lessons or violin at the School for Strings?     Of course I can’t, but I shouldn’t feel the need to.   Part of life learning is taking yourself out of the culture of ‘they should know this at the age of [insert age or grade level here]’.

(Ok, I’m a little distracted at the moment because shrieks of laughter are spilling out of Maya’s room.  I hear sounds of videos being edited and she and Ben must be adding effects;  whatever they are doing it is really funny.)

Resisting the urge to compare is easier said than done when you live in a culture such as ours, but I’m getting better at it.

The joyous laughter at 10pm helps.

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