What do I get?

I am unbelievably proud of our 7yo.

When we were in Florida earlier this month, he had a very hard time being confident in the water. He was pretty scared to be in the pool, yet you could see the full on war going on his head because he wanted to be a swimmer.

There are few times that I feel very protective of my kids, and this was one. There were a couple of people at the pool who were pretty hard on him to just “get over it” and said he was “being silly,” and I almost went Mama Bear on them. Swimming felt very important to him. And he was really afraid and embarrassed. This was one of the those moments in life where folks just needed to back off a little. Don’t make fun. Don’t judge. We all have our big battles in fear.

When we returned home, both boys started their swim lessons, and let me tell you, we hit the jackpot with their new swim instructor.

Buh bye fear.

I could just kiss that woman every day.

The little one had to wait his turn, not so patiently.

And they were both mighty water warriors.

I choked back tears like I was at a wedding, I was so proud for him.

To see your boy win an internal battle is an amazing thing. He loves the water. And after four lessons so far, I have glimpses of a future swim team guy. Seriously.

When we got in the car, I turned to him and told him how proud I was. And then he very sweetly, very innocently asked …

What do I get, Mom? Like a toy or something?

Oh my WORD. I nearly collapsed. What had I taught him? That very big things are externally rewarded by a gift? That it wasn’t enough to intrinsically know you are being awesome?

I quickly ran through my Head Files (yes, I’m capping it like it’s a title, like the X Files, but it’s spookier and real-er), and realized that after a good trip to the dentist? They got ice cream (I know – that makes no sense). Awesome parent-teacher conference? Favorite place for dinner. Helping out a friend in need? Trip to Target for a special thank you gift.

We’ve also had plenty of situations in which the boys have been fantastic and weren’t rewarded by a gift, but still. For that to be his go-to thought when I gushed my pride at him – I was devastated by this.

It’s caused a lot of reflection on my part. I don’t have a standard “well this is how I changed my children’s view of consumerism and me-ism into complete philanthropy and intrinsic well-being” solution. For Pete’s sake, I understand developmental theory and milestones and at which points in life we begin to shift from the id to the ego and beyond Freudian psychology and into my own psychological philosophy of “being ok that I’m awesome at some stuff and I’m proud of myself for it but not an asshole.” I’m so over the “participation trophy” mentality of our culture – how can really good stuff ever seem really good if we just sit around celebrating our mediocrity at everything while our parents continue living to the their fullest cheerleading potential?

OY. Soap. Box.

This swimming thing was a big deal. I wanted him to feel proud of himself, not to only feel worth in it because he received a gift. We, as a society – no a culture – have watered this down to mean nothing special. So I’m starting an Awesome Revolution, and this is it.

Be awesome at being awesome.

That’s it. You don’t get a trophy. You don’t get ice cream. You don’t get a new toy. You just get to be awesome.

And while you’re at it? Smile more.

Over (my soapbox) and out.