The parent as overachiever

Last week, my daughter’s school held an information evening for the parents of rising high schoolers to explain how the next four years of course scheduling will work. Having already sent one child through the same school, I remembered enough from her older brother’s time there to know the process is long, and way more complicated than it seems. The Dutchman and I decided a refresher course wouldn’t be a bad idea.

After the presentation, when the time came for Q & A, a frizzy-haired woman a few rows up raised her hand. “My daughter is very talented in the visual arts, and I’m worried her schedule may lean a little too heavy in that direction.”

overachieverThe Dutchman and I exchanged a look. Was there a question in there somewhere? The Principal handled her non-question like a pro.

A few moments later, her hand jutted into the air again. “Is there any way my daughter can exempt from the 9th and 10th grade English courses and go straight into the upper levels and APs?”

The Dutchman and I lifted a brow. Talented and brilliant, wow.

By now, people around us were exchanging looks, as well. I doubt any of them were surprised when the woman took the floor yet again.

“How do I go about getting my daughter in AP statistics her freshman year?” she said. “Because blah-blah-blah-blah-blah…”

This was the moment I stopped listening, and began wishing they served wine at these things. Honestly, lady with the frizzy hair, is your daughter truly that amazing or are you just trying to impress us? Because right now I’m kinda the opposite of impressed. I’m kinda feeling sorry for you both.

So let me tell you a little about my daughter. My daughter likes to paint and draw and sculpt, too, and some of her stuff isn’t half bad. My daughter is a voracious reader, but only if Dance Moms isn’t on TV and none of her friends are on Facebook. My daughter tolerates math and science but just barely, and thank God for her tutor because I’m not a big fan of those subjects, either. The grades my daughter brings home are perfectly adequate.

But she’s smart and funny and talented and pretty and kind. She’s well-adjusted and well-rounded. She sings, loudly and almost always on key, in the car and in the shower, and she can spike a mean volleyball. But most importantly, she’s happy.

And isn’t that what we should be bragging about?


About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (, Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at

Posted on April 12, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Amen, Sister! I experience this almost daily and all I can think is what you said, it’s sad: sad for the parent and mostly sad for the child. When did raising an average child become so sinful?

  2. I have learned from experience that when your child’s case is “different” from the average be it for good or for bad, this is best discussed in private… Those informative meetings are for topics in general, as I can see, we all encounter with these types of parents, I feel bad about saying this, but they are annoying and disrupt the whole feeling of the event, I know that school administrators prepare for this (I work in a highschool both in class and administratively) but parents don’t, jajajaaa of course after this, we all know who to look out for! Besides, our children will come home and talk about the exceptional student as long as he/she is also A GOOD FRIEND, or at least friendly in general…so maybe this mom was trying to overcompensate for her child’s lack of social skills presenting her to the rest of the parents…. And, in a way, tooting her own horn… I once wrote about the “mother hen” … not nice 🙂 thank you for another great read, Alexandra

  3. I’m giving you a standing ovation, Kimberle! We should be worrying more about whether or not our kids are happy and self-actualized, not whether they’re going to win a Nobel prize at 20. If nothing else, the teen suicide rate should tell us we’re stressing these poor kids out. Bravo!

  4. Thank you for making me feel perfectly normal! We consider a sit-down family dinner when we are all in the car at the drive-through and our quality family time is typically watching the Amazing Race or The Voice. However, my kids are kind, interesting and have hobbies and friends. My husband and I actively try to lower the social and academic stress/pressure they have at and frm the school by reassuring them that they have choices and we support their makng them – even when they might not be our choice.

    With reference to today’s teen and young adults suicde rates – terrifying.When our first child went off to college this is the talk we gave him and his younger brother still at home: “We are always here for you. There is nothing that will ever cause us to abandon you. Sometimes you or we will be angry, sad, disappointed, scared, remorseful and/or feel guilty. But there is nothing as a family we can’t work through and if “stuff happens” that you think you might not get through – WE WILL get you through it. Call day or night – we will get there/be there as fast as we can.

    And we pray….

  5. Whoa, after reading your post and the comments I can see many of us have teenagers and we’re going through similar thoughts and discussions. My daughter just entered high school and sometimes I think she’s over-scheduling herself. I wish she’d slow down sometimes and just chill. But she’s trying to work it out and she knows I have her back and she loves high school. That’s a good thing since I hated it – the whole Catholic school, wear a uniform thing was just “not happening” for me since I was a hippie and rebellious. I really think kids these days have too much information bombarding their young brains what with the internet – Facebook, Twitter, et al . I’m glad we didn’t have it when i was growing up.

  6. And that’s what counts, that our kids are happy and productive in the real world. Thank goodness we’re not all overachievers or it would be a blood bath out there. 🙂

  7. Kimberle Swaak

    Thanks, all, for the feedback. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only mother out there who feels this way!

  8. I’m late to the party, but love this Kimberle. Love our “real” kids.

  9. Good for you! And isn’t that right? The loudest parents are typically the ones you don’t want or need to mind. In my experience they’re speaking up not because the message is important, but because they just plain want to be heard. Pfft!

    Good luck as your daughter starts high school! 🙂

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