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Average?? or Extraordinary??

LightingTheirFireI am not interested in being average. For myself or my kids.  Children first come us as these beautiful souls.  I believe our job is to help guide, shape, and encourage them to live up to their full potential as extraordinary human beings.   Just as I am always working to better myself, I am also constantly working on how I can help my kids become better too.  I don’t mean in sports or academic subjects – I am talking about something much bigger and grander (and more important, in my view) – LIFE.

In Life, I want my kids to choose to be kind.  To always have good manners and a fire in their belly to keep learning more.  I want my kids to soar.  To figure out what is to be their contribution to the world – and then make it.  I am not interested in them being just like all the others.  I see what the pack is doing and quite honestly it frightens me.  So much of the time, it is so society (media) driven, so dull, so average – in the worst sense of the word.  And what scares me the most is that so many of those parents are content, even pleased.  I think, “Don’t you want more for your child?  And… if YOU don’t, then who will?”

So imagine my complete surprise when I found a book (hot off the publishing presses) with a subtitle: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World. The book practically jumped right out of the Amazon email to me suggesting it as one I might like.  Written by New York Times Bestselling author and 24-year teaching veteran Rafe Esquith, the ONLY teacher to have been awarded the president’s National Medal of the Arts, this book is for parents, and teachers, and anyone else who finds themselves around children in my opinion.

All kinds of adults in all kinds of roles can affect the children they come in contact with.  The aunt or uncle.  The piano teacher.  The soccer coach.  This book is good for all of them — a shot of inspiration and if nothing else, an easy, enjoyable read.  But for those willing to delve a little deeper, it can offer so much more.

So, what is the secret of extraordinary children?  Quite simply it is knowing that kids weren’t born that way, they became that way. As Mr. Esquith says:

Children are born with varying levels of talent and intelligence, but possessing natural smarts and skills is no guarantee of success.  It takes more than that: it takes work on the part of parents and teachers to cultivate these qualities, to instill in children the drive and character necessary to translate their natural gifts into extraordinary results.

This is a book that will inspire you (it did for me).  One that will remind you that you are on the right path, even if at times it feels like the road less traveled among your peers – or your child’s peers.   Or, perhaps, if you are not heading in quite the right direction, what tools you need to get there.

It was just the encouragement this Zen Mama Wannabe needed as we started off a new school year.  It reminded me of things I’m doing right (some intentionally, others just intuitively) and nudged me to try some new things.   As he says, “…the first rule of parenting and teaching is to be the people we want the kids to be.”

Yes, I’ve got my work cut out for me.  But I couldn’t be more pleased.  Going for Average?  Not on your life.  My son and daughter’s watchful eyes and eager expressions have shown me –  there is simply too much at stake.

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3 Responses to “Average?? or Extraordinary??”

  1. Danna Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 2:26 am

    What is an extraodinary result? I watched Ted Kennedy’s funeral, , mishaps, mistakes, some tragic, but yet, no doubt, an extraodinary result. his kindness to multitudes of friends & collegues, achieving goals that made a difference to the lives of others for generations. The love for his family, his strength & courage for them, was extraodinary! Is it to be fully human with acceptance, & tolerance ? Is it to be kind, he took time to do the smallest, thoughtful thing, so many people spoke of these small kindnesses. he left money for a housekeeper, his son asked him why, he said , it’s hard to bend & make beds all day.

  2. Zen Mama Wannabe Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 9:02 am

    The story that got me about Senator Kennedy was the one told by his son who lost his leg to cancer at age 12. How his father dragged him out to the snow bank to go sledding one day, not too long after the the loss had happened.

    The young son was feeling like there was no way he could get to the top of the hill – he was depressed about it all and discouraged. And yet, his father told him to not give up, that they would do it together, that he would be there with him the whole way – and he was. Arm in arm they trudged up that hill. And then they flew down the hill together and it opened the son’s eyes to a whole new way of living. (Oh what a gift he gave his son that day).

    A busy Senator, out there sledding with his child, telling him not to worry, they had all day if they needed it and he’d be right there the whole time. Through his actions he showed his son that losing a leg, though tragic, did not mean life was over. Life was still there – to be lived to the fullest. It may take a bit longer or be a bit harder, but the joy of sledding down that hill was still within reach, for him just as for anyone else. What a lesson. That is extraordinary!

  3. Zen Mama Wannabe » Blog Archive » Helping Our Kids Choose Says:
    September 29th, 2009 at 11:21 am

    […] friend was telling me about the new system she has implemented after being inspired by the book Lighting Their Fires. Every day her children are “screen-time” free, they get a star on a chart.  The stars add up […]

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