Taking Credit

Caryn: Last month, on my way to pick my 8-year-old son up from Math Team practice, a mom stopped to chat with me. She asked why I was there after school. When I said I was picking up my “mathlete,” she asked me the darnedest thing: “Is your husband good at math or something?”

Okay. So I try to be really nice to people. To be gracious. To be understanding. After all, this woman DID know that I’m a writer–a WORD person–and that it’s not a terrible guess to assume that maybe I’m not be the one with the math genes.

But still. She couldn’t have actually know that my husband was a bona-fide mathlete champ at his fancy prep school (I know…). And she didn’t  in fact know that I knew a thing or two about math (at least, once upon a time).

So here’s what I answered: “Yeah. He is. But when I was in third grade, I was the class multiplication champ. So I think Henrik might get this from me.” And then I smiled, tilted my head and said I had to go.

Seriously. I’m not normally snotty. But this question really bugged me. For many reasons. One, because of the assumption that my boy’s math ability came from the MAN of the family and not me. Two, because I somehow made the leap that this woman therefore assumed Number People–not Word People–were the smart ones. And three–and this one came later–because it made me realize how obsessed I actually am with taking credit for my kids’ abilities.

Like, when that same son won a writing contest last year, I totally peacocked around about it. Totally smiled whenever someone insinuated he got MY gifts.

But this is silly–so stage-momish. While some things may get passed down, even when they’re similar, they certainly aren’t OUR gifts we’re passing on. They’re still the ones that God chose to dole out.

Of course, it’s easier to see this with my other kids, who don’t share gifts with me. My 5-year-old daughter draws like nobody’s business and comes up with all her own crazy outfits. My 3-year-old could play any variety of ball all day long. Neither of those resemble me at all. Not too much my husband (mathlete, remember?) either. Although, my dear husband will gladly show you the nudes he sketched in a college art class any time. He’s quite proud.

So whatcha think? Anybody else wrestle with taking credit? Is it okay?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Pixie on November 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I think parents take credit for the bad stuff: dad’s temper, mom’s stubbornness, 3 yo is whining because we react to it, and the list goes on. For some reason we think it is prideful to take credit for the good but obviously not so for the bad. Your post has me thinking that maybe we should work to take more credit for the good stuff (it will definitely be work because I can’t think of anything right off the top of my head but the bad traits came instantly). I wouldn’t want my kids to think they are purely the sum of my bad parts. I want them to think that they have the best parts of me and some special stuff God gave them just to make them unique. I also think that when our kids know we say that they are like us in the good things, they know that we are proud of them.


  2. Posted by Robyn on November 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Since I am very sensitive to sexism, I would have been snotty too (if you can even call that snotty). She said it without thinking, which is even worse than if she knew she was being sexist.


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