Thank you, New York Times, for publishing “A Truce in the Bragging Wars” by bestselling author and columnist Bruce Feiler. I couldn’t agree more with Feiler’s rules about bragging, and the one thing we can all agree on, in this social media-bloated age of parental judginess: “That parents should stop bragging about their children.”
I live by a strict no-bragging policy when it comes to Preston—though I have been known to jump on Facebook to announce major milestones, like pooping on the potty at school (mostly so I remember them). And considering my kid is almost 3 ½ and potty training has been very slow going for us, I didn’t see it as bragging so much as reassuring that my kid will not, in fact, be the oldest person in diapers. (Turns out, I jumped the gun on that one—he’s had many accidents since my FB announcement; karma’s pretty messy.)
Unless you’re related to me, you won’t hear me bragging about my kid very often (rule no. 8, according to Feiler: "Bragging to Granny is allowed"). I just don’t play the parenting game that way. I see boasting about your kid and proclaiming your love for your kid as different things though: I’ll do the latter all day long. I love my kid more than any other living, or non-living thing, in this world—and no one, not even my husband, has ever loved me back so deeply and so unconditionally. I could sing his praises all day long, and I do—to him, my husband and my mom on a regular basis.
I am so in awe of him and the things that come out of his mouth (friend me on Facebook to read the latest gem), because in my mind he is as close to perfection as a person can get. And the thing is, I actually do believe he is insanely smart, wise beyond his years, and achingly cute. Sometimes I can’t believe he’s my kid—not that I have low self-esteem, but he’s way smarter and prettier than I ever was. I honestly believe he will one day rule the world (or whatever he chooses to do with his life) as much as he rules my heart.
But I don’t go around spewing this stuff to everyone who will listen—how ridiculous would I sound? Sure, if a particular topic comes up, and I have something to add about my own kid when other moms are talking about theirs, I won’t not say something nice about him. But I do notice myself holding back a little… And sometimes I think that can be perceived as apathetic. I might be a little hyper-aware of not wanting to come off as braggy, who knows.
I usually like to let my son’s personality traits and talents speak for themselves (no, he’s not some kind of Stepford child). He doesn’t always cooperate, but if we’re with family sometimes we’ll prompt him to show off his new tricks, like reciting the Star Wars version of the A-B-C’s (A is for Anakin; B is for Boba Fett; C is for C3PO, etc.), which he memorized from a book months ago. It's crazy impressive.
Now of course we’re convinced he has a photographic memory because of this and other oddly Rain Man-ish things he says (now I'm bragging). But this is not a story I tell when mom friends are lamenting their kid having a hard time with letter recognition—what would be the point? That same kid has probably been going on the potty since he turned two. I think the world of my son, but I don’t compare what he knows and does to other kids. He is perfect to me and that's all that matters, even if he is still in pull-ups.
When moms go on about how advanced their kid is in this sport or that class, I nod and agree that he or she probably is a genius. I hesitate to ever compare notes. Isn't parenting hard enough without sizing each other up?
Know why else I don’t brag about my son? Because I know most of his awesomeness is sheer luck anyway and has little to do with me or my parenting skills—let's face it, my next kid will probably be the total opposite of Preston. I used to regularly declare that I had the world’s easiest baby—the counter-brag to that is, he didn’t walk until he was 18 months, and wasn’t even crawling at a year. While that worried me a little, it did make life with an infant easier—he hardly moved! I’m preparing myself for the reality that Preston may have set the bar a little high in the kid department, and you usually don’t get two kids this terrific all the time—my second baby will likely be a colicky terror, no matter how talented we as parents think we are.
Be honest: Are you a mom who brags about her kids a lot, or do you follow the same no-bragging policy? I swear, no judgment! If you do brag, are you even aware you’re doing it most of the time? (I know I just bragged about Preston, but I was trying to prove a point!)