Growing up I was always, or for at least as far back as I can remember, a very self conscious kid. I don't know why. It wasn't something I obsessed over, I just figured other kids were cooler and better looking, so I was lucky if anyone wanted to hang out with me.
How completely fucked up is that?
A few days ago, I found one of my old little league soccer pictures from third or fourth grade. Now I'm not trying to be conceited. But looking at it, geez! I was actually a pretty cute kid! It actually took me by surprise. For a moment I felt like I was looking at someone else.
So where the hell had I ever gotten this idea? It's not like my parents ever taught it to me. Looking back, I can't remember anyone ever even saying it to me. Even so, the idea stuck with me in one form or another until well after college.
I think that perhaps my hyper-inflated sense of modesty may have been one of the culprits. I don't mean modesty in the religious, “Adam! Put on a fig leaf, you're nekkid!” sense. I mean the kind of modesty that expects people in polite company to coyly refute sincere compliments. I don't know when or where I picked it up, but I continue to fight it to this day.
One of the things I liked best and that made me most uneasy about my wife when we were first dating was her complete disregard for this artificial code of modesty. Here's what I mean:
“Heidi, you sure look pretty tonight!”
“Yeah, I know.”
At first it bothered me, but then I started thinking to myself...”why shouldn't she say she knows? How cool to actually know! I don't see a problem with that at all.”
Now I'm thirty-five and have a six-year-old daughter. I think with a kid you just can't tell them enough how cool and important they are. I don't mean you should go overboard and tell them things that aren't true. Chances are, your kids are so great you won't need to exaggerate.