It was a rare occurrence. With every account caught up, I stood at the counter, mixing cookies.
Grinding oatmeal in the blender, I smiled, thinking of the boys’ delight. They’d be surprised, seeing the counters full, and they’d head straight for the milk.
Wasn’t it every child’s birthright, I thought, to be greeted with fresh chocolate-chip cookies just once in awhile when they got off the bus? Oh, it was, for nothing said, “I’m happy to see you,” and, “You are welcome here,” quite like that. In the cold, hard world of peer pressure and homework, warm cookies and a smiling mama went a long way in helping a fellow recover.
Childhood. Birthrights. Hopes, dreams and societal expectations. The words tangled yarn like in my mind, standing there in my kitchen.
Things down here were skewed. Did every generation swing like a pendulum, trying to correct the mistakes of the one before? From an era where verbal affirmation and “I love you’s” were rare, it had become the norm to reward token effort. To pin a ribbon on mediocrity. To applaud the slightest participation so as not to damage a psyche.
Conversely, there was tremendous pressure placed on children to excel in academics and sports. To know what they wanted to be as freshmen. To top out their SAT scores, earning top-notch scholarships. To be superstars in something. After all, wasn’t it a birthright, that kind of success?
But what if you were average? Not the best, not the worst? What if you weren’t the shiniest star, the smartest scholar? What if you didn’t dominate on court or field or (there was this) didn’t care to? What then?
In the grown-up world, did one’s life count for less if he wasn’t a CEO or if he did manual labor? If she cleaned houses for others or stayed home to raise babies? On the grand cosmic scale, if there was one, were there fewer points for an average life with simple achievements? For an ordinary existence, an unremarkable passing with nothing outstanding to mark what you’d done?
And your kids — what if they were average, too? Did it make you a failure as a mom or a dad? How did one measure, and who got to say?