I used to brag about my kids’ academic achievements all the time on social media. Sure, my youngest was only in grade school and my oldest in middle school, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like each grade they earned and every award they received went to securing spots at Harvard.
But then two questions they began to ask more frequently started to bother me.
Who got more likes?
How many likes did I get?
See, although my kids aren’t on Facebook or Instagram, they sneak into my accounts. [And of course, someday they will have their own.]
So they know.
And they started counting.
And I woke up.
Some months back, I decided to tone things down. I didn’t want to stop totally, not just because I am proud of them and I can’t help it, but also because I am leaving a digital trail for them. So I decided to put more emphasis on the things they do, apart from school and their grades, that make me proud.
Like the time E, my 5th grader, told me about how a classmate’s father berated their teacher because he didn’t like the grades his son had gotten. That classmate was moved to another class.
I asked E what he thought should have happened. He said, without hesitation, that the father should have made his son work harder.
Or that time, just before summer break last year, when E’s teacher pulled him aside and thanked him for being nice to that one classmate everyone liked either ignore or make fun of. E’s teacher said she noticed how E treated that classmate as a friend and was proud of him.
And then there was that conversation that took place last Saturday…
See, our family likes to go out and eat to celebrate events, including school concerts. Since our high schooler’s concert is on a Monday, and because we knew it would probably end past bedtime—with homework waiting to be done—we decided to do an early treat.
So the hubby asked J where he wanted to go. And J picked a fast-food place. His dad frowned. “Really? I was thinking you’d choose Red Lobster or something.” J shook his head, “Well, you already spent so much on our Christmas gifts. It’s okay.”
I grinned like an idiot, I was so proud of my boy.
Like I said earlier, I’m leaving digital footprints for my sons. So along with making sure they know we appreciate their hard work at school, I also want them to know that what they value and how they treat other people matter just as much. If not more.
The way I see it, their academic achievements will lead to greater opportunities in the future. But, if the seeds of kindness and generosity aren’t planted today, my sons would seize those opportunities for their own sakes alone. And that would be such a waste.
So maybe, if they know their parents love how they are learning to be fair, then they’ll keep learning.
And maybe, if they know we’re really happy they treat other people with respect, then they’ll keep at it.
And maybe, just maybe, if they grow up learning there is more to life than just awards and accolades, then maybe they’ll live meaningful lives, past the limelight, doing what they can to make life better for another human being.