My 11 year-old son David recently got a 100% on his geography test.
I was thrilled.
In part, because I've handed my own ambition to him (if he looks good, I look good), but it was more than that.
David had studied, and because he'd studied, he knew the Asian countries and capitals cold. In light of a conversation we'd had just a few weeks prior, this was quite important.
Here's the redux.
“David, you got an 18 out of 24 on your Wordly Wise exam. I don't quite understand how you can be so articulate and not do well on vocabulary tests.”
“Mom, a B+ when I'm just winging it is pretty good.”
“You're right David, it is pretty good.”
Photo courtesy of Marcelo Wain
But David, “winging it” and “pretty good”?
“How are you going to do the good you were meant to do with “pretty good” as your watchword? The world will be just fine if you don't do that good, but will you be?”
What I didn't say, but thought, because this interchange was not entirely about him (one of the burdens of being the oldest child), was this:
If I dare and dream, and dream and dare some more, only to have my children Not dream, or they dream, but haven't the competence needed to make their dream happen, then what?
So, am I pleased that my son is learning about capitals and countries?
But his learning to be competent, to prepare for his call to adventure, to do the good he was meant to do — makes my heart sing.
P.S. My son has read and approved the publication of this post.
What can we as parents do to help our children feel a sense of responsibility to build on what we've given them (while forgiving us for our not-so-good) to make the world a better place?
Is framing their life as a hero's journey helpful?
How do we keep a vision of the “good our children are meant to do” top-of-mind?
Is the angst I'm feeling pretty typical for moms of 11 year-old boys? Or should I be more concerned, and re-read Madeline Levine's The Price of Privilege?