It was baseball practice, a place where lots of intense conversations seem to take place. We chatted about our first grade boys, compared homework loads, discussed reading level goals set by the district.  I watched worry cloud the eyes of one of my favorites of the other mommies.


“I worry about his reading,” she said.  “We’re both getting so frustrated and I really don’t think he’s going to get to, what is it, a 16? 18? by the end of the year.”


In typical woman fashion, we “circled the wagons” around her and offered support, encouragement, and suggestions for things that might help. She’s an awesome mom and there’s not a whole lot we came up with that she hadn’t already tried, but she was grateful for any and all ideas. Still, she fretted. She knew her son’s reading level wasn’t as high as that of many of the rest of our sons.  Tentatively, she asked me, “What’s A’s reading level? Can I ask? I know it must be high…”


I looked at her. “He’s a 28 now,” I said. She let out a long breath and I sat next to her.


“A couple months ago, A. came home from school and was telling me about reading that day. You know how they always have partners– reading buddies– for each day? And how they’re pretty randomly assigned?”


She nodded.


“Well, that day, A. had been partnered with Jonathan (not his real name) and he was telling me all about it.  He said, `You know, Jonathan’s a level 12 and I know that I’m a 24 and all, but the thing is– they started me out at an 18. Jonathan started out as a 2 this year, Mom. He’s made SO much progress. Isn’t that cool?’”


The bleachers got pretty quiet. She looked up at me, tears in her eyes, and whispered, “He said that?”


I nodded, “Yes. He really did.”


“Maybe I need to change my perspective,” she smiled shakily. “Maybe I need to focus on the progress.”


We turned back to watch our sons play ball. Her son, a natural athlete, stood on first, calling out to A. to throw him the ball.  A. pulled back and lobbed it from his short-stop position and, while quite a bit too far to the right, the ball had good distance on it.


“Nice throw!” our first baseman called out. “You’ve gotten awesome since last year, A!”


It’s all about perspective.

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13 comments to Perspective

  • Marci

    My 4 year old struggles with verbal skills. It is a struggle for him to even repeat “May I please…”. He has made so much progress (Today he actually said “May I please have help.” all by himself…makes me a little teary eyed to say that). He out of the blue yesterday said, “Mommy! 5-2=3! 3 more stickers and I get my car!” (potty chart). It’s easy sometimes to focus on our kids’ struggles…it’s quite another to remember that every child excels in something different. We don’t need to compare our children against others…it’s better, as you suggested, to focus on their own progress. It’s freeing to realize that they are only “competing” against themselves. (It’s also helpful that I am homeschooling so I have some leeway in letting them both excel and struggle a bit which are both good character developing activities.)

    • Man, your kiddo gets a CAR for potty-training?? Don’t tell my kids that! ;) (I kid– it just made me giggle when I first read it. :)) I love what you wrote about how we need to let them “compete against themselves”– because that’s how we witness the progress, the growth! And it’s a much more valuable gauge, to be sure. (This is also why I love martial arts for kids– there’s a big focus on individual growth and competing against oneself.)

      • Marci

        LOL Only because I got them for extremely cheap with various stackable coupons (less than $.50 each!). ;-) That and I’ve been fighting him to use the potty for a YEAR with zero cooperation (ever had a kiddo who would hold it ALL DAY only to relieve himself in his nap/bed time pullup so he didn’t have to use the potty? That’s when my cloth diapers looked better than the cost of those pullups….). The good news is, he doesn’t want a sticker every time he uses the potty anymore, so he’s making good progress.
        I’ve thought about martial arts for them when they get a bit bigger. Little Bit wrangling (he’s 2) is a full time sometimes full contact sport… ;-)

  • Carrie

    Thank you SO much for this reminder, it is timely for me as well. My son is 4 and a half. He could start Kindergarten in the fall, or he could start next year. My little bud has always been just a bit behind on milestones so I am thinking of holding him back a year but have struggled since all his little buddies that are about the same age are starting in September… this helps me get some perspective of my own.

    • From a teacher & parent (granted of a toddler)…go with your gut…God has a way of making it all work out…rest in that. :)

    • Laraba


      I would also encourage you to go with your instincts about your son. Boys are often “later bloomers” than girls and my 2 boys (ages 7 and 9) are still very energetic and have trouble with long stretches in seats. One son has an August birthday and I officially started homeschooling him when he had turned 6. He is making good progress in HIS timing…probably he is behind most children his age but I am not worried about it. He is making steady progress and that is what I want.

    • I’m going to go against the grain and admit that I’m not a fan of the whole “boys mature later” rationale. I think it’s too broad of a generalization. It may hold true in those early years, but I think the girls face it in later years. So… that’s just my random two cents. ;) All that said, however, I agree with what everyone has said about knowing your child and going with your gut. I will say this much– I’ve met very, very few people who regretted a decision to give their child the gift of another year, but I know several who wish they’d waited to send their children. Mostly, I want to applaud you for actually thinking about what’s best for your son and not just going with the flow– good for you!

  • Such a great story. I wish more boys and men were like A. What a mature guy you have there :).

    • Thanks, Miranda. A’s a good kid… and so is his friend/teammate! I love how they recognize one another’s strengths and encourage one another in areas that are more challenging. :)

  • Kids have this way of just knowing…beautiful story :)

  • That is so precious. What a sweet and kind boy you have!

  • [...] A little boy we absolutely love is in our son’s class. (I wrote a little about him back here.) [...]

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