Yesterday Boobaby announced out of nowhere, "I have a rubber band on my arm." An eight word sentence!
As we praised her brilliance and her forearm turned blue, I had the briefest pang of worry. Should we really be counting words in Boo’s sentences and identifying every milestone? Plotting how quickly she can identify her letters?
Being excited about development seems completely normal. But when Boo’s friend EJ was demonstrating her mastery of colors today (she knew that one leaf was "dark green" and another was "light green," darn her!), I found myself involuntarily feeling a little jealous! Envious of a two-year old!
Sure, some parents elevate their natural pride to ridiculous heights. I once told a playground mom about our music class and she snorted, "Oh, we used to do that, but now we’re only doing music class in Spanish." She went on to tell me how her 30-month old could do an arabesque and play chopsticks. I nodded with a neutral expression that she undoubtedly took as approval, but which really masked my inner voice telling me to Run Away! Run Away! Quick!
Still, I really want to get excited about Boo’s accomplishments for no reason other than that they make her happy. But when she finds a bug or learns a song, I admit, I really want her to show them to other adults. In the back of my mind (OK, probably in the front of my mind) is the hope that these parents will think, "Wow, that girl can sing ‘Tainted Love’ while holding a millipede! That’s some damn good parenting!"
Plus, what about the naughty stuff Boo does — if I’m proud of her achievements, how should I feel that she’s kind of a bully sometimes?
So I have a hard time drawing the line between pride and hubris, embarrassment and acceptance. As with so many other bits about being a dad, I get really muddled around this question.
Oh, well. At least I’m not doing this to my kid.