parents

"Of course your children are Gifted And Talented. Mine aren't, and it's fine by me."

Does it seem like every second schoolkid is exceptional? Well, I’m here to put my hand up and say, “not mine”.

My kids are average, and I am okay with that.

They are absolutely exceptional to me, but they are not exceptional at anything in particular.

To be truthful, they aren’t particularly talented. They are average in school and average at sport. They tried piano – and weren’t really that good.  They play soccer and tennis and do okay, but nothing special.

My seven-year old just competed at the school swimming carnival and scored a very impressive third, out of a field of six.

His four-year-old sister really likes ballet, but is never going to be a prima ballerina.

Shauna’s daughter Emme – just happy to dance.

In a time of the exceptionally-talented, high-achieving children you encounter at every turn, my three fit right smack-bang in the mid-range.

Don’t get me wrong, my three kids are the love of my life – they are funny and sweet and loving, they are silly and kind and crazy at times, they play together as well as they fight and they drive me up the wall as much as they make me catch my breath with love.

But they aren’t’ top of the class, or winning school debates, they aren’t Gifted and Talented, or winning awards at every turn.

They are just kids. And to me – that’s just fine.

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With my first I measured and scrutinised every other baby in mothers’ group alongside him – just as much as the other mums did.

“Who talked first? Who walked first? Oh, Chelsea just loves books, I am sure she will start reading soon. Have you heard Jack beat that Fisherprice drum? We’re thinking of enrolling him in junior piano.”

Those first few years of parenting are a minefield. This tiny being holds so much potential for the future and you just want to grab it and mold it.

Will he be musical, or sporting? Oh, look at how he draws. Have you seen him write his name?

How all of our children are. In our dreams.

You struggle to contain your ambitions for them.

As they get older, the world becomes competitive around you. From the minute you hit kindergarten reading levels, it’s on. Mothers talk of OC classes and selective schools. Phrases like Gifted and Talented crop up in conversations daily. The world of Saturday sports becomes about squads and the firsts.

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“I just want my kids to be happy” you say.. and you mean it.. but its hard not to think that your child might just be that little bit special, that fleeting notion that just maybe they might have something special and if so you should at least attempt to let them realise their potential.

I remember when my middle son, now a five-year old, was first moved up in his swimming class.

My son does a mean bomb, but he’s not quite Ian Thorpe.

His teacher proudly told me that at the age of three they had never promoted a child so early. I remember those first stiffening bristles of pride rising through me. Visions of packed-to-the-brim swimming bags flooding my front hallway for years to come. I could feel myself already rising early each day for swimming training. I could imagine the slight chuckle I would give when others would ask me what sports my kids enjoyed. I could taste the medals. I could smell the chlorine that would permeate my life. I had a champion on my hands.

Watch out Ian Thorpe, you haven’t met my Odie yet.

And then I came back to earth as I removed his bulging swim nappy. Over the years I have watched him slowly plod along at that same level for the 24 months.

He loves swimming. He sure does a mean bomb and hardly ever cheats at Marco Polo, but he isn’t even close to that Olympic-would-be he became for just a fragment of a second poolside that day.

He is well, he is just average.

Related content: A dangerous mix: ‘Tiger mums’, selective schools and pissed-off Anglo parents.

Folks, I am here to break something to you as well.

Your child probably isn’t a genius either. Your child probably isn’t a sporting prodigy and probably isn’t going to make Mensa. Your child probably is just like mine – average.

And you know what? You should be okay with that, too.

Obviously, to me my children are spectacular. They hold onto me like they will never see me again when they depart at the school gates each day and fiercely whisper ‘I love you’ in my ear.

They delight in everyday wonders. They are kind and brave and are a thrill to be around. They question me about the world with unquenchable curiosity – but most of all they are happy.

My children might be average but they are my world. If that is average then average is pretty damn good to me.