Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

5-minute-friday-1I hate when she cries. Actually, I hate when either of my kids cry, but somehow it effects me more greatly when my almost 15-year-old daughter is the one in tears. It brings back a flood of memories. Sometimes it even feels like I am looking into some sort of magical mirror reflecting my childhood.

“It’s not fair!” she cried last night, “you never understand!”

I tried to give her a hug in response. There were no words to solve this drama. Nothing was going to change her perception of this moment. I have years ahead of me to become smarter in her eyes.

She’s angry DW and I said no to extra classes next year. Getting her to school before 6:30 in the morning would not only be cumbersome for us, but tiring for her if she still intends to swim for the high school team. Taking after school classes isn’t an option either because it conflicts with sports activities. Plus, it was stressful enough keeping up with 6 classes, how in the world would she keep up with 7 or 8 classes? We offered a solution, one she is not overly excited about though, summer school.

“Forget it,” she snapped, “I just won’t do anything extra then and just focus on what’s required. Will that make you happy?”

“Happy about what?” I asked confused.

“Happy for me to be ordinary,” she grunted.

I feel like as a society we have put too much emphasize and undue stress on our teenagers to be exceptional in everything. We’ve sent the message that high school is practice for college, like it’s the precursor to the rest of your life when I think it should be more about finding yourself and learning how to deal with social pressures or recognizing social issues in the world. I remember it being about learning discernment and strengthening basic skills. Focusing on “the ordinary” and doing it to the best of our ability used to be a good thing. Now the kids are expected to take “zero-hour” classes before school and “7th-hour” classes after school in order to get core classes out-of-the-way and make room for more electives, electives that supposedly make them more “well-rounded”, creative and competitive.

“I wonder if there is any room for the ordinary any more, for the child or teenager — or adult — who enjoys a pickup basketball game but is far from Olympic material, who will be a good citizen but won’t set the world on fire.”  – Redefining Success and Celebrating the Ordinary by Alina Tugend, The New York Times

When did working hard, focusing on our strengths and being proud of doing a good job on a few things, rather than flounder through a million things, become so ordinary? And when did being ordinary become so unsuccessful?

17 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

  1. Great post Emily (in my story Death and Cupcakes I called the girl Amy – her real name is Emily). Nice blog and great post. Gad you stopped by great to connect with other Blogger / writer / parent types 🙂 All the best.

    1. ?? Was it something I said 🙂 I’m not spamming just returning for the comment you left on my site (Trifecta). If i’ve breached etiquette please let me know I am quite new to blogging.

      1. LOL! No, I didn’t think you were “spamming”, I just hadn’t read all of yesterday’s comments. I really appreciated you taking the time to leave a message! Thanks 🙂

  2. My 16 yo freaks out all the time about not “being distinguished”. I’ve tried to encourage him to think of some different service and humanitarian ways to do that. As long as he’s going to try to overachieve, then I want him to do good in the process.

    1. That made me smile – I just had dinner with one of my besties, and she said the same thing. If we can raise kids to be compassionate, community focused, honest adults then they will most definitely be “gifted”.

  3. What many forget is that it is okay to be who you are – without being #1, without being the focus of attention all the time. That it is okay to be “ordinary”.
    My children would be classed by many as ordinary. But they are unique in their own way. By giving them the time to breathe while they are children, to play, to imagine, to take the time to find what they enjoy I feel we are giving them the ability to find that light within themselves that will make them shine when they are adults. A light they cannot hope to find if they are being shunted from one activity to the next 7 days a week. A light they cannot hope to find if they are pressured into doing the search while they are not even sure yet of who it is they are.

  4. This is very very good. Kids are so overbooked, pushed to the brink of nervous breakdown by parents trying to live through their kids. Enough is enough.

  5. Love this! And you sound like a wonderful mother, setting appropriate and necessary boundaries for your children. It is unfortuante that, somewhere along the way, we’ve made being ordinary seem unacceptable. This is an eye-opener, for sure.

  6. Oh Emily….this is splendid!! You carried me through every word, the rhythm of this encounter. I could feel your ache for connection to your daughter – willing her to know your heart and her own worth and just…everything. How big our God is! How we forget to rest in that whether we’re 15 or 50 because we’re too busy trying to make ourselves bigger for this giant world we’re supposed to find our place in. But our place is set in the Cornerstone. It was set with nails and wood and blood and LOVE fierce and alive.

    Oh I’m so incredibly thankful you stopped by today so that I could come find you here. And be better, more sure of His love because of your words. 🙂

  7. Brilliant post! I know what it’s like to be pressured to do more — teachers who say public speaking competitions will be good for us, who give us 5-page-long reading lists, who want us to come to book clubs and work on the magazine team which has meetings at the same time as the council they said you should join, all the while telling you to do revision even several months before the exam on top of your homework … and I’m already playing three instruments, writing novels, taking ballet classes, and attending archery sessions! Sometimes I just want to quit everything temporarily and take a few weeks just to sleep …

  8. Thank you for your post and I couldn’t agree with you more! My kids have made it through high school and mostly through college. They are moving on with their “ordinary” life God has fashioned for them. It’s not easy as the parent to watch them figure out their way and place.

    1. I appreciate your support and compassion – my children seem to be surrounded by “over-achievers” and “advanced-learners”, so much so that I’m starting to wonder what we did wrong! It’s no wonder our children feel like they aren’t “good enough”.

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