Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Separate and Not Equal

With two kids, and perhaps particularly twins, parents strive so hard to make things fair and balanced.  Bud takes kung fu; Sis takes gymnastics.  Sis gets to go to the American Girl store; Bud gets a special seafood lunch.  We go to Bud's competition and Sis's recital.  I switch off whom I sit next to at lunch; Mama and I switch back and forth at open house.  Sis gets chocolate; Bud gets strawberry.  Everybody gets a turn and a fair share.

I'm realizing that even fair and balanced isn't a tenable parenting strategy.  The real world isn't like that.

And I'm setting us all up for disappointment if I pretend that it is.

Right now, the inequalities are coming in spades.  Small ones, but still.  Sis got invited to a party, but Bud didn't.  Bud's art was chosen to be exhibited in a special show at the Board of Ed; Sis's didn't.  I can't make it equal.  Sis got to do her piano concert; Bud didn't.  And offsetting disappointment with sushi or Legos or whatever doesn't adequately prepare them for other disappointments later in life.  We can't fix it.

And there will be bigger ones on the way, no doubt.

So we've been talking about how they are individuals, with different interests and skills.  And sometimes things will happen to or come to one and not the other.  And that's okay.  They are different.  Just like Mama and I are different. We love them both.

I even introduced the Buddhist concept of mudita, or sympathetic joy--happy for someone else's happiness.  Yes, that's a bit advanced.  And probably a bit too much to ask for from 8 year olds.  Since 40 year olds have trouble with it, still.

They just nod.  (They are very used to my long-winded teachable moments.)

And I know I'm saying it for myself because I'm having a hard time knowing that one of them is disappointed or discouraged.  Even if I'm trying to remember that teaching them to cope with such feelings (and to be graceful as winners as well), moreover recognizing and accepting our own weaknesses and strengths as well as those of others, without competition or jealousy--is one of the best things they--and I--can learn.

1 comment:

  1. As the parent of 4 young adult children and a person very involved in education from K-college...the magic word I can give you is RESILIENCE.

    If you can teach your kids coping skills, compassion, co-operation and generosity you will give them a huge leg up in life.

    And I know you are already well onto that path.

    PS. Resilience is a mighty fine skill for Mamas, too.