Thursday, 21 July 2011

To boast or not to boast, that is question.

My boys are clearly the best, I mean every mother knows that about her children doesn't she? While to others your offspring may look like a snivelling bunch of out of control monsters, to you the sun will always cast its rays from their backsides. It's part of the mummy job description. While others may cast a more cynical, nay realistic, eye over your brood, you will always have rose-tinted specs perched firmly upon your maternal nose.

Thing is when your children genuinely do well then what? End of term is report season and, well, this does rather tend to bring out the braggart in one. Now some mums are quite bare faced in their parental pride, one might say rather thoughtlessly so. To hold your little darling's report aloft screaming about all the praise that has been heaped upon him, while other parents frown at the row of D's adorning their own child's report card is nothing short of insensitive and rude.

However, it is hard to quell the desire to show off about just how well your baby has done. The only danger in this of course is that, God forbid, someone else's child might have done better. While you smugly tot up all the As your child has collected over the past academic year, some other mother might be able to best you, and that would be quite devastating to the competitive parent.

Perhaps this is why, while I allow myself a broad smile as I scan down their reports, I try to keep my boys' results to myself. Of course you will have guessed they did well by now (and where else can I show off if not on my own blog), and I swell with pride at all their achievements. Not least because my own report cards were not such an exercise in excellence.

When I ecstatically hug my sons for doing so well the motivation isn't unadulterated maternal pride, it is also a faint feeling of astonishment that these boys are related to me. While they associate report time with treats and rewards, I will never forget the cowering fear with which I awaited the return of my own mother and father from parents' evenings.

I knew I wasn't in line for any accolades, instead I would be grateful if I got away without a thump around the head for being so utterly sullen and stubborn about school. Best case scenario was ending up with a vicious row about what a disappointment/embarrassment I was to them.

While my sons teachers write about what a joy they have been teach, my own could come up with nothing but complaints about my surly attitude and lack of prowess at anything much. Moaning about my lack of enthusiasm twinned with a irritating talent for answering back.

My boys love school, I hated every moment of it, and didn't hold back in showing those poor, benighted individuals who had the pleasure of teaching me just how much I disapproved of wasting my days in academia.

So for me maternal boasting is underlaid by a feeling of wonder that I could have birthed such brilliant boys from such unpromising material. Though I do, in this respect, speak for myself as they have clearly inherited their academic abilities from the paternal side of the family as  my other half has an unblemished record of achievements throughout school and university.

Perhaps as the years go by I will become more accustomed to reading such good reports and become as blase as my sons. I might even become brave enough to try my hand at the ancient Jewish practice of kvelling, a skill I am picking up from a true master in the art, my mother-in-law, who never fails to show off her genius for it when talking about her precious grandsons.


  1. I don't normally boast, but since you ask my daughter got a full house of top grades in her SATS. And my son can apparently do a PowerPint presentation, clearly a useful skill to know at age 8.

  2. PowerPoint of course I mean!!

    Although PowerPint sounds useful also.

  3. Great post. I say, if you can't boast about our kids, who can you boast about?! But I don't like the mums who continuously brag about how incredible their child is when others see them in a totally light. The school in which Amy used to go to had a lot of parents like that and I ended up just ignoring them all. My daughter is autistic and so they all assumed she would also be "thick".

    It was hard, but we got through it.
    CJ xx

  4. Joanne - I thought PowerPint sounded like a much more useful skill! Also did you get my message about using that post?

    CJ - I know, kind of my point about not kvelling in front of other parents. One of my friend's children is dyslexic and has much the same issues. Glad to hear you are coping and good luck with it.

  5. Nothing wrong with a bit of boasting. But don't boast to other people in front of your kids - my mum used to do that, and it really embarrassed me! (Glad to hear the boys are doing well though!) x