Are you better by having the best?  Do the more expensive brands on your back, the best food in your mouth or the finest places to hang out make you better?

I think about this and the unattainable quest it can become.  I catch myself smiling longingly at shiny things and that food at the exclusive restaurant does make my belly feel happy.  However, I can also find a $35 dress at a market somewhere and feel just as proud wearing because I find it unique and beautiful.  Realistically, I’ve got nothing to prove and no one to impress, thank goodness.  It took growth, searching and maybe even some lonely times to discover what it was I liked, to feel grounded and comfortable with ‘me’ and to figure out the directions in which I wanted to move.

So now I am a parent and like most parents around me, I want the best for my kids.  At times though, I’m not really sure what that is.  I wonder, is it giving them what they want or it is giving them what I think they should have and need.  Do I try to surround them with everything positive or should I expose them to the ugly side of life too?  Will trying to give them with the ‘best’ make them elitist?  I don’t want them to constantly strive to be ‘perfect’ and I would hate for them to forget that everyone is equal.  It also seems possible that heading in another direction could cause a sense of defiance or rebellion.  With so many twists and turns, it seems difficult to navigate the roadmap for an ideal growing up experience.  I just want them to be ‘cool’, confident and able to float back and forth with ease.  What I want for my children is the ability to figure out who they are without societal nagging.  My hope is for them to be comfortable wearing, watching, practicing, creating, living what they like even if it’s not the norm.  I suppose it’s the lead-by-example approach that’s the most effective.  If we stay in the middle, maybe the kids can avoid getting caught-up in any crazy nets.

My parents wanted the same for myself and my brother.  Not growing up with much and then creating a life for themselves, my parents wanted to give us everything but not let it distort our perception.  One very special thing my Dad gave me was a framed copy of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’.  It resonated within me and I still hold its message close and refer to it often.  I will try my hardest to instill these values into my kids and of course, when they can read, hang a copy on their walls:)

IF by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son (daughter:))