Crack Babies

Do you have any? I do. No, not the poor doomed souls who had the misfortune to end up in the womb of someone who has no business becoming a pet owner, let alone a parent. I'm talking about kids who have the very real potential to fall between the cracks.

Blissfully average babies.

It struck me last night at hockey. William loves sports. Loves them. He's the kid who checks the calendar himself, every morning, to see if there's a game or practice. But he's never been the one who excels, the one who is the SuperStar, the one who people stand by and watch and say, "Go ahead and spend that college fund on something else. That kid's going to have scholarships."

And I'm ok with that. I think I am probably the least competitive person around (at least where sports are concerned. We'll talk about Scrabble later.) I'm thrilled when one of my kids shows any interest in anything, quite frankly. Just so long as they're doing something that gives them some joy. If it's getting lost in a new book? Yay. Discovering their inner Trump and grooming their entrepreneurial streak? Go for it! I want my kids to do what they want to do. If that makes sense.

William wants to play sports. Last night the teams for hockey were decided. The whole way to the rink, William was babbling about how he didn't want to be on the C Team. "I'm better than most of the guys that were trying out, Mom. All of the 4th graders at least." Granted, there are some SuperStars in our league. A few of them are in William's grade, one is in his actual classroom. These kids were blessed by the sports gods, I'm sure, and I can guarantee you that there was no fretting about being placed on the C Team for these boys. And that's wonderful. Really. They have found their passion early, and I think that rocks.

So we get to the rink, look for our team. A Team? Nope. That's ok. Hey, here's the B Team list. Auughh. Check with one of the coaches...he barely looks up from lacing his kid's skates and says, "William's on C."

I looked at my little guy's face. For a flash of a second I saw the disappointment. I felt my own.

And then I stymied it. How foreign this feeling was in me, this feeling that my son wasn't placed on the "good team". I felt like a traitor to my boy and to myself. But then the old Rallying Jenny appeared and I did what I do best: I encouraged my kid.

Until we accidentally opened the door to the wrong locker room.

One of William's classmates burst out and said, "This is for A Team only!". That's when I saw the disappointment in my son's face again, and one more time I felt that icky primal mama bear growling from deep within myself.

We found the correct locker room, the room for the C Team. William was silent as he started layering on his equipment. The other boys in the room were, too. I wondered if any of them had made the mortal mistake of walking into the "wrong" room.

As I watched him practice that night, my mind started whirling. I wondered if the fact that none of my kids have ever been The Golden Child in any of their fields of interest was my fault. Was the divorce to blame? All of them were at such impressionable ages when the shitstorm occurred, and the fact that we are still tripping over debris from the fallout afterward makes me worry that they have all suffered too much for too long.

Is it because I don't have a lot of money? Surely camps, clinics, one-on-one lessons would have given my kids a leg up in any arena. But I can barely pay for things we need every month, finding the money for lacrosse camp, violin lessons, hockey coaches? Please.

Is it because those who do excel have two parents, not one exhausted mom and one dad who spends the majority of his time playing house with someone who has zero interest in my kids? The kids I know who are the best at things have at least one parent who lives and breathes their passions with them. I want to be that parent, I want to be the one who has sweatshirts covered with pins showing my kids in various sporting garb, the one with the "MY KID IS SMART AND YOURS ISN'T" bumper stickers. I really do. But I have four kids, and I'm doing this basically all on my own. I'm grateful if I've made a good dinner at least 2 nights a week.

Or is it because my kids are average? Wonderfully, sweetly average.

I think it may be a big messy combination of everything I've listed, and a few more that haven't occurred to me yet. Like natural ability, funky mental stuff that's been handed down to them from both sides, inherent personality traits that cannot be changed by anything.

And it's ok. But I find that it's harder and harder to keep my wonderful, average kids involved in activities when only the best of the best are rewarded, only the SuperStars get the locker rooms closest to the rink, only the kids who test well on one certain test can get placed in the challenge classes (please don't get me started on what it's like to have a kid with an IQ in the stratosphere not getting placed in any challenge classes due to the fact that he didn't score well on a classroom test. Please.).

So you know what I've decided? I've decided to do what Mary Engelbreit has been telling me to do for years. Bloom where you're planted. And I'm going to keep encouraging my kids to do what they love, and do it to the best of their abilities. They're going to be rubbing elbows with the SuperStars for the rest of their lives, they need to learn how to accept it, to deal with it.

And maybe, just maybe? Give the SuperStars a run for their money now and then.

Mommy will be there, cheering them on, loving them no matter what. Telling them that they are SuperStars, always have been and always, always will be.

I'll be the one sealing up those damn cracks with some heavy duty grout. Grab a trowel and help out if you'd like.


  1. This is beautiful. Simply beautiful. Way to go average mom. You represent more women than you think.

  2. "Surely camps, clinics, one-on-one lessons would have given my kids a leg up in any arena. . . . lacrosse camp, violin lessons, hockey coaches? Please."

    In our area, Jenny, this is HUGE!!!! It's unfortunate for our kids because the competition is so fierce - and don't forget the politics of it all! My 5'2" volleyball playing daughter was really good as a high school sophomore, but the coaches didn't even look at her. They were busy choosing 5'10" gawky uncoordinated eighth graders ahead of her. She saw the politics of it, quit, and never looked back. Now she's a sharp-shooter in college, and is known throughout the campus because she's featured in videos and print ads for the school. She's having the time of her life - NO THANKS to her experience in elementary, junior high or high school! They bloom at different times. It doesn't make it easy for our kids; hopefully this can be encouragement for you.

    They'll be okay, Jenny.

  3. Thank you grenee! I'm friends with many moms of superstars, I was hoping I didn't offend anyone. I wish nothing but the best for all kids.

    Tracey, yep. I was talking to an old friend from waaay back in the ECFE days and she was relating her experiences with the varsity basketball team. Her son, who is like 6'5" and excelled like crazy didn't even have a shot at playing varsity. 99% of the team is made up of boys "recruited" from outside of our district. HIGH SCHOOL. Your girl is an amazing, wonderful child with a special light that comes from within. I am not surprised that she's doing so well. She is a beacon of hope for all the other "middles" out there!

  4. We've seen some of these kids who live and breathe a sport year-round, go to the camps and clinics and then suffer 1 injury that sidelines them and then that kid is completely lost...because that sport has been almost their whole life, and even their identity. Now what do they do? It is fantastic if they're good, and they enjoy it - and there is nothing wrong with the camps and such to keep them busy, but there is nothing wrong with playing recreationally either. On the bright side, if he is an average/slightly above average player he will likely get more playing time on C than he would on A, maybe even on B - ??? I hope making the C team doesn't take the wind out of his sails :( (or skates)

    (I will say the little dbags that made him feel like crap about the locker room would piss me off too. I suppose somewhere there is a life lesson there too - like if he makes a better team next time, he knows how not to treat the boys on the lesser team. That one might carry with him to other aspects of his life.)

    And yes Jenny, they will be ok.

  5. Anon, YES, I told him that he is going to rock the C Team and that this will be an awesome season for him. Who knows, maybe playing with kids who aren't skating circles around him will increase his confidence and lead to bigger things.

    And it doesn't hurt that the coach of the C team is a dad from our school who happens to be a psychiatrist. This could be a good season for all, lol.

  6. In my opinion (and based on personal experience) the critical element that helps a kid deal with these kinds of disappointments is a parent with your kind of attitude. There were times my mom was to empathic with my disappointments. Even though I know she was trying to help me feel better, the fact that she was let down by my let down made it worse. I have to catch myself and my reactions to my own kids when they go through similar experiences.

    I love that William.

  7. And how weird to separate the kids by locker room in addition to the ABC thing? Yuck.

  8. Jenny, you know that this is me, Gail F., right?
    How can a place have more than one locker room for boys? That's sick.

  9. Of course I know it's you! I just don't know if anyone wants to be "outed" on here.

    They have 4 (or 5??) locker rooms. Since the rink has several different groups using it from hour to hour, I think they have that many locker rooms for a bit of organization. Like the girl's age 10 and under team may practice at 5, then the boy's SuperStar team at 6, etc. So the separate groups can get ready/wind down together.

    Or else it's a conspiracy against my kid.

  10. UGH I'm a crack baby!!! average, AVERAGE, AVERGAGE!!! lol; I had a knack for acting on an insane level but life happens and thats a big dream to catch with zero funds!

    Glad i checked you out, can't wait to read your future posts :D.

    http://eschelle-mumfection.blogspot.com/ <--- if you're interested.

  11. Jenny, your kids excel at being awesome sweet kids.
    That's all you need to know!

  12. Seems to me I remember reading a post from a reunion that someone attended where she ran into some people from school that "were really heading somewhere"...aka, the rockstars, so to speak, that when she saw them at the reunion she realized that maybe they didn't head in the direction she thought they would. AND that she was so amazed by all the other people that didn't really catch her attention while she was in school and that she didn't get to know very well back then, but that she now found to be just amazing people.... Truly great people with fabulous senses of humor, talents, and wonderful personalities. I wonder what kind of experiences these formerly "average" people had that formed the basis for what they became? Hmmm......


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