Letting go of the pressure to perform
It’s indian summer…the sun still high in the early evening as I watch my five year old line up to putt.  We’re out playing miniature golf after a long week at work and school.  Kindergarten can be rough.

They grow up so fast, children.  I love to watch my son when we’re together, knowing that he won’t be this little for long.  Today, he is joyous.  He had a great day at school after weeks of rough ones, struggling to adjust to new rules, teachers, and classmates.  His smile and adorable dimples, rarely seen after school lately, are out on display and I think – this is perfect.

Five is a fun, and at times challenging age.  Exerting independence, determining appropriate interaction with peers, and spending more time in the classroom than on the playground, life is suddenly different than preschool.

As parents, we try to help with the transition, ultimately learning alongside our children.  My husband and I have attempted various approaches to handling the daily struggles at school.  In the last few weeks, every evening has become a rehash of the day’s performance and home feels more like the principal’s office than the haven it should be.  I have had enough.  So, today I tried something different.  And learned a valuable lesson as a result.

This morning, I told my son that we were going to play mini golf after school because dad will be away and I thought it would be a great way to kick off the weekend.  It broke my heart a little when he asked “What if I have a bad day?”

I told him I didn’t care.  “It doesn’t matter.  What happens at school stays at school.  As long as you and I are okay, we’re going to just go out and have fun.”  He’s quick, my son, but wanted to make sure this odd math added up.  “So even if I have a bad day, we’re going to go?”  I reassured him, that yes, we would go no matter how his day went.  “Okay mama, I’m going to have a great day.”  And he did.

When I thought about the difference between today and any other day, I came to a quick conclusion.  By eliminating the pressure to perform, and saying that our evening would move forward regardless of the day’s events, it freed him to be the wonderful child we know and love.  Instead of focusing on what he would win or lose if he made a mistake and broke the rules, he just focused on the moment.  He made the best decisions he could throughout the day, and they were mostly right on.  As parents, we can’t ask for more than that.

I mentioned before that as parents, we are learning alongside our children.  Today, I learned a valuable lesson from my son.  When it’s not about winning and losing, we can just focus on what’s important: being kind to our friends, working hard, and having fun.  Sounds like an overall win to me.