You know how people think their little one is The Cutest and The Smartest Child Ever? I have never been under that delusion. And that is yet another reason why I wonder if perhaps something is wrong with me.
I suppose it all goes back to my early days as an elementary school student. I thought I was The Smartest Girl in the school because I was a mighty fine student. I loved learning. I loved writing. I loved all things academic. I loved spelling and I especially loved Fridays in fifth grade when we’d have math games at the blackboard. I always won. I was very smart, indeed. (And humble.)
Then, the world collapsed and my parents divorced and I realized I was fat (though at a completely normal weight and normal size). And then *cue ominous music* sixth grade happened.
I easily won my classroom spelling bee and went on to the all-school spelling bee. I intended to win, as I was The Best Speller. Or so I thought. Then I encountered the word, “cellophane,” and I fell apart. Cellophane? I was out. Back in my homeroom, I found a small folded paper . . . I unfolded it and found “C-E-L-L-O-P-H-A-N-E” pencilled in block letters.*
That was the beginning of my personal realization. I was not the Smartest Girl in the School. I was definitely not the Cutest Girl in the School. I was just another kid, an tall girl with brown eyes and dishwater blond hair who couldn’t spell “cellophane.”
My quest for perfection was not yet over, though. I intended to graduate with a 4.00 grade point average. And then came that fateful class in high school in which I received a B+. Stupid, stupid, alcoholic choir teacher. Not that I’m still bitter, but that woman gave me a B+ for the semester grade, even though I had excellent attendance, participation and an A for my first quarter grade. I received a B for the second quarter because I missed a choir contest–which I explained to her in advance that I’d have to miss due to a prior commitment. She gave me extra credit so I could make up the deficit. She implied that the extra credit would make up for the missed contest.
And then she ruined my grade point average. The grown-up Mel would have protested, but the teenage Mel accepted the unjust grade with dismay. If only I knew then what I know now.
So, where am I going with this long-winded dissertation? Well.
All I have to do is look around and I see people who are smarter than me, more talented than me, cuter than me, skinnier than me, and who understand poetry and politics. And I dearly love my children, but I see them clearly. I know they are not the cutest, smartest, cleverest children ever.
I am objective, unlike my sister-in-law who believes that her grandson is the best kid in the universe. He’s a brat and his kindergarten teacher will tell you so. He got in trouble for stripping naked in the school bathroom and his grandma, my sister-in-law, thinks that this is somehow the teacher’s fault. Poor poor child, it’s not his fault that he’s a hellion who is always in trouble. Whatever.
Maybe I’m just a little crabby tonight. As you can see, I have no illusion that I’m correct . . . but I am definitely sure that I am irritable and unlikely to win Miss Congeniality. And my kids? They are terrific, but so are a lot of other kids . . . and mine aren’t spoiled rotten brats who think they deserve to be treated like royalty.
*I never did find out who put that little slip of paper in my desk.