autism · Lexi is helpful · memes · soapbox


Standing out at the park I listen as the very rich soccer moms one up each other using their kids as the ladder. It sounds a little something like this:

 Mikey started reading when he was three! I mean, really, he’s very very smart.
Well my Jilly can recite Pi to the 1,000th place.
My fetus has already been accepted to Einstein Academy Preschool!


I walk by with Abby and they all swoon over her cuteness. They love on her and tell her she’s so cute and then all look at me like, “Wow! Better you than me!” We talk for a little while. One of them informs me that Casey stuck his little container with monarch caterpillars RIGHT in her face and then spent 20 minutes talking about the whole life cycle. “He’s very smart,” she says, willing me to climb on their ladder, if for no other reason than she wants me to say something she can one-up.

Just to stop that crazy train, I did something I don’t actually do too often. I said, “He sure is, and he’s autistic.” I let them chew on that for a minute. One plus one is a pretty simple equation, but it usually takes people a little bit to put it together that yes, I have a child with autism and a child with Down syndrome. I hate that moment. I hate that I know that, 9 times out of 10, that person is probably on the verge of pitying me.

Because this is their worst-case scenario. At least, in their heads it is. But what you don’t see until you’re in the Special Needs world, is that the batshit crazy one-upping soccer moms exist there, too. I’ll be dammed if I don’t know A LOT of parents with special needs that got the diagnosis of their child and thought, “well then, I’m going to make him the best damn child with (autism/Down syndrome/Cerebral Palsy/Eczema/etc) there ever was! WAY BETTER THAN YOUR SN CHILD!”

Which is totally great. All parents should shoot for the moon with their kids. They really should. And all kids should be proud of their parents’ accomplishments.  And all parents, in the end, should just be okay with the fact that no matter what they do, their kid is probably going to end up being mediocre.

I said it. There’s a good chance your child isn’t going to be in the NBA or a member of Mensa. There’s a good chance that everything you’re doing right now is going to make your kid the smartest damn kindergartener ever…and the most bored.

One time at a family function when Carter was 2, he put a bowl over his head and ran head first into a wall. He fell backwards and laughed hysterically. My sister, who is quite possibly the funniest person I know, patted him on his head as she walked by and said, “…but you will be good at sports…” as a jab to the fact that he probably wasn’t going to be the smartest kid in his non-prenatal-acceptance-receiving preschool.  And you know what? He’s in third grade now and….drum roll please….he’s an average student! Yay! Average! And, he’s fantastic at sports. He might even play in the NBA.

But probably not.

What am I getting at here? To give up? To not push like crazy to do what you think is best for your kids? Nope. Just a simple reminder that it’s not about you. Your child’s accomplishments will never make up for what you didn’t do in your life, they’ll never make you taller than your dad, and they’ll never really impress the person you’re trying to “one-up” because either they’re not listening to you because they are trying to think of their next ladder rung, or, they don’t give a damn because they’re secure enough to see how completely insecure you are.

And I’m not saying that you don’t get all excited when something super fantastic happens. You can call everyone. But no one calls everyone, so you can TEXT everyone. Tear up every social network. Because accomplishments in any sphere of parenting are what keep us going when everything else super sucks. But there’s a difference between you telling someone to praise YOUR KID and you telling someone to PRAISE YOURSELF.

Just try not to be too disappointed the first time your child comes home with a “B”. When your son with Asperger’s doesn’t end up creating a social network. When your daughter doesn’t win the pageant you should have never entered her in because it’s creepy. Realize that we want our kids to do their best in whatever arena of life they enter into, not your best. If they are happy and challenged and impossibly mediocre, good for you. You’re normal.

…unless you’re still hearing voices.


46 thoughts on “Mediocrity.

  1. Gurl you're on time??? As long as those voices told you to get your post up on time then it's all good, right??? Right???No seriously, some moms are just crazy. CRAZY. There is a big difference between praising yourself and your child. BIG. I wish some of the moms at the playground knew that.

  2. love the article. love how arbitrary it all is, but how some parents just need to feel like they have some control over it. I just signed Emma's report card. . . straight A's. I didn't PARENT that into her anymore than I parented autism into Lily. You write a great story. But um. . . ladder, not latter.

  3. Women are crazy. CA-RAY-ZAY. I love when my kids accomplish stuff. I means all this stuff we do every day? It's working. It's making a difference. To THEM. Yes I get super excited because I don't know what my kids are ultimately capable of – none of us know. But to see progress means whatever we're doing is working, because let's face it, there's no manual that slips out with the placenta.

    1. Amanda, perhaps I misread your comment, but it sounds like you are taking credit for your children’s accomplishments and and implying that parents of children who accomplish less are not doing as well. Our children are individuals who make their own choices, despite parental influence.

  4. Oh man, I hate the mom competition since it's 1. unnecessary2. annoying (your kid is not advanced just becuase he walked at 9 monhs)3. makes moms push their kids too far too fast. I have a mom friend who has her kid in a preschool because "90% of the kids who graduate (yikes) from that preschool get accepted to a charter school. They wake her kid up early from naps because he doesn't have proper penmenship (he's 4) to practice writing his letters. I told her not to worry about it since it didn't matter how neat his hadwriting is at 4, plus most kids (mine) can't write their name very well at 4 let alone write sentences. Her response-"well we expect excellence from our kid, he's not allowed to slack off when it comes to school or sports."I couldn't help myself I told her "good luck with that, I'm pretty sure that's how the mental health industry stays in business."

  5. Oh, Lexi. LOVE this post. I'm so tired of the constant one-upsmanship among parents. And you're right – it extends to the SN arena as well. I hate it. And while I'm very proud of all my kids' accomplishments and achievements – yes, especially Finn's since they're harder and slower to come by – I am very conscious of not talking too much about those things, because I don't want any of my kids to be valued based on what they can or can't do. And the things they CAN do? I totally don't take credit for it – most of the time I feel like my kids are doing well in spite of me, not because of me.

  6. Seriously. I love it when the OT or ST or whomever tells me what a good job I'm doing with Abby. I smile and nod, but it's really her own self determination in an effort to find food. That girl is always hungry.I can sympathize.

  7. Every time I hear horror mom stories like this, I'm reminded of the part in Meet the Fockers where Greg's mom ends up yelling "Prodigies don't eat their own boogers, Jack!!" Challenge, don't push, or you best be hidin' all the cutlery. :O

  8. …and that's why i quit most playgroups. now that i've moved, i've found a very nice, small group of special needs moms and there is none of this stepladder nonesense and i'm so grateful!

  9. When I lived near D.C. I ran into those super-competitive moms all the time, and my oldest was a preschooler at the time. One nice thing about being back in a small town I haven't run into that. I'm sure they are out there, but there are far fewer of them.

  10. I'm sure they're the best at it. Like if it were an olympic sport, you know, they'd get gold metals. At mediocrity! Bless you for embracing it.

  11. The one I went to several years ago back in Washington was great. The mothers only "one upped" each other in "lets see who's the worst" category. It was awesome.

  12. Yes. As much as I love it here in Arlington, I'm ready to go back to a place where you don't have to wear belts. And diamonds. And have your kid in every sport.

  13. I have always bit my tongue about what my kids can and can't do in comparison. I hate the feeling when others rub it in my face because I don't like to compare the kids. BUt then people ask me questions about what Lil MIss or Lil Man can do and I just don't know what to say; I mean what comes to mind is "SHUT UP, IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER"

  14. Thanks for the read — as a member of the soccer mom set you speak of, I find myself immersed in that ridiculous kid-centric competition every day. Just a heads up though, your link to that NPR profile of the New York preschool that tests unborn kids' DNA was written as an April Fool's joke and wasn't meant to be taken seriously. Evidence: the school in question, "Porsafillo," is an anagram for "April Fools."

  15. ahahhaa. They got me! I'm ALWAYS the one that tells people to check before the post ridiculous crap, and then I did it!Score one for The Slurrys!

  16. Two things: First, I love your poster and what you said about mediocrity being okay. Because waaaay too many people lose their shit if their kid doesn't go to an ivy league preschool.Two, you are SO on time this week and here I am playing catch up on commenting Sunday night. Karma, she is a bitch.

  17. /quoteI hate moment. I hate that I know, 9 times out of 10, that person is probably on the verge of pitying me./quotewoooooord!!!Hurray!!!!! I'm ready to rip faces off when this happens.It's like ROAAAAAR – LOOO Every one of those little "pity-bits" gets me just insane. Pity yourself – you fools…

  18. oh, baby screamd and the doorbell ringed as dhl deliverd bongodrums and and and -my concentration distracted. And I can't possibly remember what I was going to write after LOOO – (?!!) Mommyhaimer. Next to alzheimer, in a way. Great.

  19. okay – so i just saw this come up in my feed, and i’m SO glad i did! this is awesome – as a matter of fact, i want to print it out and *shove* it in the bookbag of every kid my daughter goes to school with, you know – just so parents know: it’s allllll good!

    we have our own park over here, and somedays… well, somedays the park politics are worse than the politics in washington! thanks for this great read!

    oh, and thanks for the graphic. yeah… who would’ve thought, right?

  20. Damn, that hit home. On the spectrum of one-upping moms, I would say I tend to fall in the gray area; I don’t outright make comparisons, but find myself putting undue pressure on my kids under the guise of not wanting them to be a ” loser” like me, haha. Once again you have the graceful ninja writing skills to make me laugh, cry, wince, and get my priorities straight all in one post. For the record, I don’t pity you, but I do SO appreciate your honesty 🙂 thanks for this reality check.

  21. Another thing that gets to me is how these people never have problems, their lives are just perfect! Everything is in their right place! How is that possible…I don’t buy it! I never give reports anymore, I use the same tactics!
    Had to share this with my husband!

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