Am I Remarkable?

Being successful at finding a geocache
Being successful at finding a geocache

I’m currently reading Paul Tough‘s wonderful book, How Children Succeed, and while I’m only about half way through, I am enjoying it immensely (please grab a copy if you don’t have it already). Now, the concepts of innovation, creativity, character, and grit are seemingly everywhere in my life feed these days.

(Sidenote: I’ve noticed I’ve started calling all the “input” I get these days my “life feed” – a short hand term for the amalgamation of Twitter, Facebook, my link reader, Flipboard, Feedly, Zite… all the things. Is this weird? Totally snotty? I don’t know. Also, if someone could buy me this shirt, I’d like an XL in grey please.)

Anyway, just like Buyer’s Awareness, where you see a million Jeeps right after you buy your Jeep and oh my gosh they are everywhere, why I didn’t see this before, my car is so common?!, I find when I read about a topic as it relates to my child, all I see are complementary or refuting articles about similar topics. Everywhere.

Grit. Character. Innovation. Creative Thinking. These terms get tossed around, sometimes interchangeably, and sometimes not. We all want our children to be successful, wonderful people who leave their mark on the world and most of us believe that traits such as these will be the main contributing factors to that happening. For the record, I think a bit of luck doesn’t hurt either.

Today, a friend shared a link. It’s fairly interesting post about Jane Andraka, the mother of Jack Andraka, who at 15 (he’s 18 now) invented an inexpensive screening test for pancreatic cancer. Jack’s invention is not without criticism – other scientists have refuted some of his claims and he was called out at one point for opting to file a patent rather than let the invention live on in open source – but it is amazing and innovative AND it’s actually beside my point. Jane has some great points about raising creative and innovative sons, and how she encouraged them to reach big goals. I love the Idea Book that she mentions, where her hair trigger anxiety kids can pour all their half-formed ideas and come back to look at them later – Kale would love this. The article is a nice, feel-good article about a supportive mom.


With arrow


(You knew there was a “but”, right?)

Calling your attention to that part I’ve pointed to with my lovely green arrow: “advice from a parent with two remarkable sons“. This sentence is an “excerpt“, a little line of text the original article poster can customize that follows the link around as it gets shared on social media channels. If you opt not to write one, usually the first hundred or so characters default in there. But you can set it manually if you’d like, which is great when you’re posting and sharing links that you’d like attention to. Especially if you’d like to be provocative, mysterious, or intriguing and you want someone to feel compelled to click on that link. I try and remember to write excerpts because they look nicer on my front page of my site, but I don’t always remember.

What prompted me to grab a screen capture of this and write this ridiculously long back story (sheesh, Jen), is the word “remarkable“.

We all want our children to have success, and be creative innovators who change the world. I have daydreams of Kale’s future that involve a lot of happiness. But: what, and perhaps more importantly, whose measure of success determines that you have done a good job raising your child? And why does my child need to do something remarkable to be considered a success? I feel like I am pressured (by media, peers, society, my subconscious, name your blame game) to push my child into being {quote} remarkable {unquote}. Is there is nothing wrong with being happy, healthy, and loving your life? Is that not success? Could you not call that remarkable?

For the record, I know what remarkable means. I also know a commonly listed opposite of “remarkable” is “ordinary”.

But, what if remarkable and ordinary crossed paths rather than stayed on opposite sides of the fence? Why can’t an ordinary life not also be remarkable?

Is Google - gasp! - wrong?
Is Google – gasp! – wrong?


For me, it is. The summary I can boil my life down to is surprisingly succinct. I feel like my life has been ordinary. And, by my own measure, I am successful and am satisfied. But would someone else say the same thing?

I wonder if one day someone will post an article about Kale’s mom who encouraged him to be creative, stay true to himself, and not be embarrassed to have a passion in whatever he wanted. I wonder if his mom encouraging him to read and think and be himself will be attributed to his success.

Will they say he is remarkable?  I hope they say he is ordinary.


7 years ago