When my son, Benjamin, was a kindergartner at our inclusive neighborhood school, my husband, Mark, and I were excited to visit the kindergarten class during Parents’ Night. Twenty-five pictures of cows were displayed on the walls—all looking pretty much the same—so parents had to get close to find their child’s name on the paper. Mark and I, however, spotted Benjamin’s picture from 30 feet away; it was a Picasso-type cow. Benjamin said it was a cow and we believed him—and we loved his cow!
The teacher approached us and said she was sorry that Benjamin’s picture “didn’t look like the other children’s pictures.” What she really meant, it seemed, was that our son’s cow didn’t look “as good” as the others. (Did I mention that Benjamin has cerebral palsy?) We didn’t let her words diminish our joy in Benjamin’s accomplishment, but I did feel obliged to educate her. I responded: “Please don’t compare Benjamin to others, because if you do, you’ll always be disappointed—he’ll never ‘measure up’ in your eyes. Also, you’ll be so focused on what he’s not doing that you won’t see what he is doing. Please compare Benjamin only to himself: what he’s doing today that he didn’t do six days or six weeks or six months ago, then you’ll see how he’s learning and growing.”
I cannot imagine how I might feel about myself if I was measured against others. How would I see myself—how would others see me—if I were compared to other mothers? Other wives? Other housekeepers? Other writers? Other public speakers?
By what benchmarks would I be judged? Who would set the standards? Click here to continue.
The only fair benchmarks are the ones established by, and important to, the individual. The only fair comparison is
to one’s self.
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense