Vicarious Confidence

Is Kid Confidence Contagious?


I’m not worried about my boys uncovering the truth about Santa. In fact, I’ll be proud. All the clues are there; it only takes a tiny amount of logic to hash out the facts. I’m not worried about the day when my boys ask about sex, drugs, or even politics (no logic involved here). I’m not even worried about my boys spending waaaay too much time in the bathroom. What I worry about, at least currently, is when they discover that they’re not nearly as fast as they think they are.

My boys honestly believe they are the quickest, strongest beings on earth. My oldest is even faster than the boys that blaze past him on the soccer field. It’s my fault. It’s completely, one hundred percent my fault. I use the fake stopwatch as much as any parent… probably a little more.

“Go get the wipes in the other room, hurry… I’ll time you!”                                                   Kid bolts down the hall.                                                                                                                 Kid returns a few minutes later, frantically breathing.                                                     “Damn!!!… that was FAST, 13 seconds!! NEW RECORD”

It’s going to be a rough day when my oldest has to face reality and admit that there might be a person in the world capable of getting the wipes faster than he can. His world will be shattered. Maybe worse, MY world will be shattered because he’s going to first realize that that person is me, and I don’t want to have to get up and get the wipes every freaking time.

But more than that, there’s something uplifting about a kid’s self-confidence. I wish I owned half the self-assurance my son possesses. Most parents need a little shot of pride and arrogance each day, just to get us through the times our kids let us down. Because we feel like we let them down. In the race against the stronger, faster parents of the world, it’s easy to feel like other Moms and Dads are blazing past, leaving behind a trail of homemade yogurt, crafts, and judgement. So it’s nice to feel my self-worth bolster a little each time my boys flex their scrawny little arms and tell me how strong they are or brag about their drawing of a dog that looks more like a dying tree. I’m learning to feed off their positive energy like an emotional parasite.

It’s not a wonder parents sometimes find themselves getting washed in glory on YMCA sidelines. Maybe it’s not always a bad thing. Occasionally, we’re simply basking in the glory of our kid’s confidence, even if they’re getting rocked by a faster, stronger team.

Author: Joel Menking

English teacher, turned stay-at-home dad, turned guy who made a website.

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