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A Slice of Humble Pie

It never fails and I should really know better by now. Let me explain.

Noah had his very first “class” this past Friday. The class was Tumblebees at the YMCA, and it was the first time Noah would be with a group of kids, listening to a teacher and following directions.

My crazy, always interesting little boy.

My crazy, always interesting little boy.

Yes. I was nervous for him. But mostly I was excited. Like all moms, I think my kids are the greatest things since sliced bread and I can’t wait to share how wonderful they are with others. I know, gag me. But, if you’re a mom, you understand. I know you do.

So, yes, I was nervous about how it would go, but I honestly thought it was going to be just fine. Wonderful even. Noah is a sweet little boy. He doesn’t give me too much trouble at home and he enjoys climbing, jumping, and rolling so I didn’t think it would be a tough first day. I was able to sit with Sophia and watch the class, so I was really looking forward to seeing how the whole thing played out.

Usually when he has too much fun, this happens.

Usually when he has too much fun, this happens.

OK, I’m going to be honest here. I was feeling a bit smug walking in. Again, like most mothers I know, I think my kids are pretty amazing. Walking through the doors of the gymnasium, I couldn’t wait for Noah to show everyone what a great kid he was. I wanted to show-off a bit. Or a lot.

So, Noah sits down with the rest of the group, 7 girls and 1 other boy, and things are going well. The teacher, this kind older woman who must have drawn the short straw for having to teach a bunch of two year-olds and keep order in a large gymnasium filled with all sorts of fun things to climb on, began to show the kids different stretches.

Noah was doing great, if I may say so myself. He was listening and following directions. I was beaming. I was also looking around at the other parents because there was this one little girl that wasn’t following along. She was wandering around the gym and her mother was calling to her to pay attention. I chuckled a little to myself. Poor mom. She must be embarrassed. I decided to give her a kind smile and a shoulder shrug that says, “What are you gonna do? Kids will be kids..” all the while thinking, THANK GOD MY SON IS BEHAVING.

We all do that from time to time. Most of the times, it truly is showing camaraderie, I swear. Most of the time, I really do want that mom or dad to know it’s ok, we’ve all been there and you’re in good company. But sometimes, sometimes, there’s a little bit of a gloat behind that smile.

And those are the times that I end up eating my “kind” words and thoughts, and getting kicked in the you-know-what for being just a little too smug.

This was one of those times.

The instant the kids were asked to stand up and move to the next activity, Noah went A-wall. He started doing laps around the entire gym. I laughed to myself, holding Sophia a little tighter on my lap. Noah, what are you doing? I thought, through clenched teeth. Stop!

I held off correcting him for a while, and then I finally set Sophia down and marched over to Noah. I said, very sweetly, “Noah, honey, you’re going to miss all the fun! Go join the class.” I took him by the hand and brought him with the rest of the group (who were all behaving, by the way. Even that one little girl..)

He stayed put for about 30 seconds. Then he took off again. Now, he was not only running, he was singing too. And loudly.

I chuckled out loud a little, you know, to let everyone know that I was a good sport and taking it all in stride. And that’s when I noticed I was getting those looks I was so quick to share earlier. I had the entire group of parents smiling at me, nodding along, shrugging their shoulders and all the while, being so thankful it wasn’t them.

Always the performer, my kiddo.

Always the performer, my kiddo.

I jumped up and this time, not so sweetly, told Noah to join the class. I pulled him to his group and went back to Sophia, who had spit up all over the gym floor in my absence. Awesome.

When I finished cleaning up the spit-up, Noah was at it again. I swear, I think he truly believed that he was performing in his very own one-man show. He was running around the gym, singing very loudly and waving his arms like a crazy person.

At this point, I think the parents had gotten past the whole “show her camaraderie” thing and were just plain embarrassed for me.

I got up, picked a yelling Noah up, and placed him with the group.  No words were said because I didn’t trust exactly what would come out.

Fortunately, the group was doing something that actually interested Noah and so I had some semblance of peace for the rest of the class. But all in all, if Noah were to be graded as a student based on his performance during the class, he would have gotten a D-.

This photo is from a entire year ago, but my exasperated face remains the same.

This photo is from a entire year ago, but my exasperated face remains the same.

I was crushed. All my hopes and dreams of Noah being this star pupil: gone. Afterwards, we went to thank the teacher and I found myself apologizing to her about his behavior. That was such a crazy moment for me because, as a former teacher, parents used to come up all the time to do that sort of thing to me, and I’d just shake my head and reassure them that it’ll be fine, all the while thinking, Good Lord, parents can be so crazy sometimes. Well, here I was, one of them. Tripping over myself to get in the good graces with the teacher and feeling so embarrassed about my kid’s behavior.

The teacher did what all teachers do, God bless them. She shook her head and told me it was “totally normal”, that he’d “get the hang of it”, to “give it time”, and he’s “fine”. I got the entire teacher/crazy mom run-down. She gave me the whole thing. Yikes. I must have looked really distraught. And I was.

I walked out, feeling extremely humbled. And so it goes. Anytime I feel the slightest bit smug about anything having to do with myself and my parenting skills, something knocks me back to where I know I need to be.

Don’t get me wrong. Confidence is important as a parent. It makes us do crazy things like take everyone to the zoo on your own or do a project that involves paint. It also transfers to your kids and they need that sense of self-worth and self-reliance.

Humility, however? That what keeps you working hard to be better. That’s what helps to make the friendships with others. And that’s what keeps you grounded.

So, as I always seem to do, I received my slice of humble pie on Friday. It tasted awful but I needed it.

This coming Friday, I will be more prepared. I will brace myself for the worst and I will certainly show others nothing but camaraderie if they too have hard to manage “students”.

I may also put Sophia in daycare during the class so I’ll have no trouble “guiding” Noah in the right direction.

I might even bring cookies for the teacher and parents.

Is that going to far?


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