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The Extraordinary Thing About Being Ordinary

Photograph by Getty Images

Wow. Look at the news. A 14-year-old girl just graduated from college. Hey, did you see that article about the 11-year-old girl who invented a chemotherapy backpack? How amazing is that? When you hear about news items like these you can’t help but wonder if your child will add something amazing to this world. You wonder if you have to do something special to bring it out in them or if they will create it on their own. Then you sit and think about the fact that your son’s biggest passion right now is playing Dragon City on his smartphone. How is he going to change the world with that? What if he doesn’t?

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What happens to the average kid who is never chosen first string in sports; the one who walks away from school assemblies with a perfect attendance award? Do the parents of these kids feel a twinge of shame that they don’t have much to brag about except the fact that their child is getting "bigger"?

What happens to the average child as he grows older? He may continue on to become an average teenager, not known for breaking school records yet thankfully not known for mischief. This child goes on to achieve unremarkable goals like going to college and graduating in four or five years. Nothing special, nothing fancy. Then he might find an average job that he happens to like and stays there, being promoted once or twice but never feeling the need to do more because he’s okay with life the way it is.

When there is no pressure to be great, your child can define greatness for himself.

This once unremarkable child now has the income he needs to support himself comfortably and soon meets a partner whose greatest hope in life is to start a family and to simply be loved. This average person can handle those simple requests with no problem and he does, handing his partner their lifelong dream on a platter without breaking a sweat.

This average child who became an average teen and then grew up to become an average adult, isn’t bogged down by the assumption that he has to receive applause or his life is worthless. This average child, now full grown, can focus on nurturing his own offspring without demanding that they make headlines, and they in turn, will grow up to become well-adjusted satisfied individuals who don’t need fanfare to fuel their contentment.

If you have an average kid and you’re wondering if your parenting is a reflection of his "lack of achievement," think about how difficult it is to simply maintain a positive outlook on life in a world of constant comparisons, highlighting the remarkable and ignoring the ordinary. If you have a child who is able to smile most days and laugh on the others, you’ve done a great job raising a balanced child who can handle the complexities of life — and that is all we as parents really hope for.

Ordinary isn’t really so bad. Being remarkable has its advantages, of course, but being average means less demands from self and even fewer demands from others. When there is no pressure to be great, your child can define greatness for himself.

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Your average child, with the beautiful smile, will float through life, really savoring each moment instead of missing out on the fun of the carousel because he is constantly grabbing for the brass ring. He knows that his life is the brass ring — and he is wise enough to appreciate it with or without applause.

Good job, Mom.

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