I’ve kind of gained this perception that all Swiss parents are better parents than I am. Now, logically, I know there are some pretty rotten Swiss parents, but since my son’s teachers are always lecturing me on how disorganized my son is (sorry kid), and how his handwriting is atrocious (sorry kid), and I don’t know special Swiss things like there’s a special pen called a “Tintenroller” that he absolutely, positively has to have but no one tells me about, I can sometimes feel like all other parents have this parenting thing down pat.
So, when the school held a parents meeting to discuss how to help our children learn, I only signed up because I wanted a checkmark next to my name in the “good parent” category. I really had no desire to go and listen to other parents fret over the struggles of neurotic children whose biggest concern is making their folders pretty and organized. (My son’s homework this week–make your folder prettier. Not joking here.)
But, off I went. And you know what I found out? My perceptions were not reality. It seemed everyone had stories about children who won’t do homework, clean their rooms, or be generally obedient. The speaker, who is a “learn coach,” said that if you spend 10 minutes arguing with your children and end up swearing at them before they actually start their homework, you should just skip the argument part and go straight to the swearing at them. I’m pretty sure she was joking. Pretty sure. Everyone laughed, anyway.
And I kind of had this sobering realization that kids really are the same. Sure, I don’t know the secrets of magical Swiss pens, but I’m not the only parent that hates homework. I’d been viewing my fellow parents through sort of a “Pinterest” lens. You know, where you only see the amazing successes and not the hours of failure? Of course, when I spoke with the teachers they never said, “Offspring 2 needs to improve in A, B, and C, just like every other kid in the class.” I don’t see other kids’ grades, and I’m not in their houses when their kids do homework.
It reminded me of this Danish video about how we are more alike than different. Sure, there are tons of differences between my American family and the Swiss families, but I’m 100 percent sure there are multiple people at that school who are super jealous of my ability to make chocolate chip cookies. Because, while the Swiss might be good at chocolate and cheese, they stink at baked goods. I bring chocolate chip cookies to all school potluck functions and they are always the first thing gone. Yeah, we Americans know junk food.