Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Comparing kids

Peter with backward “E’s”

From the time my son started preschool, I compared him to his peers; I wish I hadn't

“Comparison is the thief of joy!” … and it robbed me of joy as a mother.

From the time my son started preschool, I began comparing.

During the first week, I noticed a couple of the children were already writing their names. Peter was just beginning to scribble something that kind of resembled letters. Was my son falling behind – in preschool?

In first grade, a couple of boys were reading chapter books.  One boy finished the Harry Potter series before Christmas.  Peter was just learning to read. How would my son ever succeed as an adult if he couldn’t read?

This dreaded feeling of “falling behind” weighed heavily on me. Did Peter learn to write his name?  Yes! Did he learn to read chapter books? Yes! But he much prefers reading statistics.

If I could go back in time, I would cherish those moments when Peter was just learning to write his name — with backward “Es”. I would watch with maternal pride as Peter read baseball stats in the sports section of the local newspaper — instead of chapter books.

I can’t go back in time, but I can appreciate Peter’s success now as an adult. And I can tell parents to cherish those scribbles on the page when a child’s unsteady hand is just learning to form the letters of the alphabet – without glancing at the paper on the other child’s desk.


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About the Author

Karen Summerville

Karen Summerville is a Seattle speaker and writer. She left the practice of law and became a career counselor when her son was a toddler. After years of counseling adults about their career choices, Karen now inspires parents to learn how they can support their children to find a career that does not follow their parents' expectations but instead allows their true gifts to shine. Sign up for her “Parent GPS” newsletter and learn more at