Swimming lessons today was a mess. The combined two classes==pb's beginning 1's class and the 2's class, which is more advanced. It was testing day, so the regular teacher was out of the water recording the "scores" while a new teacher did the actual testing in the water.
PB was in tears almost immediately, and I couldn't figure out why. He usually loves swimming lessons and has done great the last couple of weeks. But through his sniffling, he told me, "I want the other one." I thought he meant other teacher, and i think that's partly what he meant, but really he meant his other class--the one where kids can't swim by themselves and bob all the way under water; the one where everyone isn't better than him.
After we unbelievably got word and certificate from the teacher that he passed and will move on to the 2's class, he burst into tears. "But I wasn't the best one in the whole world," he sobbed. My heart sunk, and my parental embarrassment level went through the roof as he said this in front of a whole lockeroom of parents.
I wanted to cry and quickly reassured him that he didn't have to be the best, that he just had to do HIS best. But really, it's my fault, and it's a good slap in the face I need to not try to push him; and how he picks up on everything.
I tell him multiple times a day, "You're the best boy in the whole world." etc., etc. I lavish on praise and compliments even though I've read in the books that you shouldn't. I know I shouldn't, but they're coming from my heart--my heart that burst with love and overflows with pride. Because really I can't imagine a smarter, cuter, better boy in the whole world (and yes, i realize/hope that everyone feels that way about their own child.)
Truth be told, I've on occasion when trying to encourage him, used the phrase, "if you do x, then you can be the best." or pointed out a friend who's doing something better than him, and said, "I bet you could do that if you tried harder or practiced more" or whatever. Because I do want him to be his best.
But I don't want to be that parent that pushes that makes their child feel like they can't ever do it right. I don't want him ever to feel like he's disappointing me, because really it would be hard to do. I just want him to have the confidence to give it all, to compete, to be okay with losing, but always try to win. I'm probably contradicting myself, and I probably sending contradictory messages to him too. But really, it's all coming from a place of love, total absolute adoration, and I think/hope that when it's coming from that, it can't be all bad.
Still those words he uttered in the locker room today were some of the hardest I've ever had to hear. I don't ever want to hear them again, but I'm glad I did this once, so that I can use them to be a better parent.