Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In defense of bragging

My son's photos were on display this weekend, and I'm bragging to everyone who'll listen.

One of the coolest side effects I've seen as a peripheral member of the parenting blogging community is the near death of parenting perfectionism. It is not necessary to have every hair or child in the proper place to be proud of one's role as a parent. In fact, it's dishonest, because we all know better. Embrace your imperfections. Make a microwave meal and camp out in front of the television once in a while. Laugh about how long it's been since your kid's had a bath. (Swimming counts, right?) It's cool. No one's perfect, and it's beautiful.

However, one of the crappy side effects of this side effect seems to be that you can't brag about your kid, or your skills at parenting, or your kid's skills at anything, without ample justification. I find myself resisting gush and pride and sentimentality every time I talk about my son, and I'm not so good at it. I ran into the superintendent of my son's school district the other day -- who's known me since he was the principal at my junior high, and thus insists on calling me "Kimbo," much to my son's amusement -- and aside from thinking it figured that I was wearing my holey ASU shirt and my hair in a pencil, I was stumped when he asked "What's your son been up to?" It wasn't that I didn't have an answer. I had too much answer. I didn't want to look like I was bragging.

Why the heck not? I have concise, modest, won't-take-much-of-your-time answers for most everything else in my life: job (I write. You've probably read some stuff, if you're in Arizona), life passions (Spiders. Photography. My kid. Writing. Not necessarily in that order), marriage (We watch nerdy sci-fi shows. We eat Panda Express. We suck at flirting), hobbies (same as passions). Why can't I have one thing that I don't rein in? What's wrong with that thing being my kid?

I guess I really don't think it's sentimentality. I won't put it all out there at once (and find tomorrow's "blog followers" at zero, no doubt, and justifiably), but I don't want to rein it in.

So, his photos. A couple of months ago at "Bye Bye Buzzards" day at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, my son followed up on a request to volunteer with Adobe Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, quite on his own. He'd made the request six months previously and had researched, carefully considered, and planned for it in in the intervening time. He's so much more than someone who thinks animals are kind of cool. He's in it for the long haul, and this is a kid who isn't always in a SpongeBob episode for the long haul. He asked about turning in an official application, and in the mean time, wanted to know what he could do. After watching him patiently take pictures for at least half an hour, he was invited to donate some of his work to raffle off to support the center. We used the shots seen throughout this post (all of which link to beautifully embiggened versions). They all printed beautifully at 8 x 10.

He beamed. He was introduced around, met Adobe volunteers and the coordinator, gave eloquent descriptions of his photos. ("I was five when I took this. I was focusing on the cactus but I wanted to get the thunderstorm in the background. I was eight when I took that one. The pond looks like a purple mirror, and I liked the effect.") At least a dozen times he was asked to meet this coordinator or that photographer, always with the introduction: "Those nature photos? Guess who took them? Guess how old he was?"

His talent was recognized, and I don't see why I shouldn't be telling everyone. He knows his way around a camera, but what's more is his eye. He has an incredible eye for things.

There should be a bumper sticker. I'm proud of my photographer. My kid could photograph your star athlete. Something. I'm bragging.

What's your kid's talent? Or one of yours? Or two of 'em, or ten. C'mon. Do some bragging.


Leslie F. Miller said... Best Blogger Tips

He's amazing. Wow. But I'm glad I don't brag about my daughter.

Leslie F. Miller said... Best Blogger Tips
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow; you're quick. Thanks, from him too. He actually loves when I write about him, which I like to think is because I truly respect him, but I will take advantage of it as long as he'll let me, at any rate.

You KNOW your daughter's amazing. And she knows you know. I think that's the right way to go.

monstergirlee said... Best Blogger Tips

He has a wonderful eye - and you should be proud of your boy, he's learning well. I love his photos too.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

so well done!!!

Leslie F. Miller said... Best Blogger Tips

Really? Did you think I was serious that I don't brag about my daughter? Hahahahaha. That's a pure lie.

Gpabill said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey, you're entitled. He's got a great eye and a great mom.

kirsten said... Best Blogger Tips

David is one of the most talented 8-year olds I sort-of-know-through-the-interwebs. He's got an incredible eye and I would have a hard time not bragging to death about him if he were mine (hell, I sometimes find myself swooning to my friends about him!).

I have no kids, but my cat can take the head off a mouse in, like, 5 seconds flat.

Dawn said... Best Blogger Tips

Even more than his beautiful photos I love his heart. Wanting to share and use his work for such a great cause just goes to show what kind of person he is growing up to be and what awesome role models he has!! Yep... that's you mom!
Kudos to both of you!