Cocky or Confident?

Dec 22 2010

This is a picture of my brother:

I’m using it without permission.  I stole it off of his gmail status.

It’s not a very good picture.  (Why are you using this picture, Jeff?  You look like you’re being successfully hypnotized.)

I’m just calling it right now – I’ve already managed to make my mom really mad.  What do you mean by ‘It’s not a very good picture?,’ she’s thinking.  It’s a lovely picture.  He looks like a Hollywood star.

My mother is delusional in all the very best ways.  We had an argument a few years ago about this very topic.  My brother mentioned that a friend of his secured a modeling deal with Nike.  My mother chimed in that she thought Jeff should apply.

I love my brother.  He’s funny as heck.  He knows how to dress.  He has excellent hygiene.  (Something that should not be underrated.)  He’s fit.  He’s employed.  He can shoot a basketball; sometimes into a hoop.  And he’s not a model.

We all laughed at my mom.  Especially my brother.  He suggested that perhaps he could secure a modeling contract as a Scottish cowherd.  I looked for pictures of Scottish cowherds.  All I found were pictures of Scottish cows.

Turns out, that works, too.  Do you see the resemblance?

I thought so.

Anyway, my mom is delusional in all the very best ways.  She really, truly believes that her children can do anything.  Neither of us has secured a modeling contract or become President or pursued medicine or law because we choose not to do so… certainly not for lack of qualifications.

Growing up with a mom like mine resulted in two cocky children.  We kind of think we’re awesome.  Well, we do think we’re awesome, but I had to put “kind of” in there because it’s more socially appropriate.

At some point in adulthood, my brother and I figured out that we’re cocky and that, sadly, it’s not always justified.  We started playing a game with each other called “Cocky or Confident.”  It goes like this:

  1. Someone asks us to do something we’re not qualified to do.  This includes everything from our current forms of employment to cutting hair.
  2. We agree to do it.
  3. We call each other on the phone.  “Um… Jeff?”  “Yes, Beth?”  “I just agreed to plan a high-profile event for 150 people I don’t know.  Was I Cocky or Confident?”  “Cocky, Beth – you were Cocky.  When do you want me to cut your hair?”  “Tonight would be great.  Thanks.”

Here’s a picture of my husband and me with my hair after my brother cut it:

That was 4 years ago, so ignore any fashion implications, please.

Was Jeff Cocky or Confident?  I’m going to go with Confident.  I mean, I think we both know it’s not the best haircut ever, but I had just delivered twins two months before this photo was taken.  I needed a haircut in the worst (the WORST) way.  I called my brother because, of all the insane people in the world, I knew my brother would be all “of course I can cut your hair.”  He googled How to Cut Hair.  And then he cut it.  And then we took family photos.  It was awesome.  Like my brother and me.  That awesome.

The time my brother dyed his wife Kim’s hair?  Well, Jeff, that was Cocky.  You should never do that again.

I’ve often felt bad for my children that their mother isn’t the same bastion of endless adoration as mine.

After a recent dance competition in which my eldest daughter Abby performed, I told her what an amazing job she did.  She’s an incredibly talented technical dancer.  She’s athletic and graceful and her body just intuitively understands how to move.  She’s also very shy and pretty much paralyzed when she has to perform, so we work on encouraging expression and strength of movement.  Her dance instructors have been fabulous, always thinking of new tricks to teach her confidence.

I did tell her how amazing she was.  I really did.  You were great, I said.  Your movements are so fluid, and you hit every move.  You were beautiful.  Your memory for dancing in incredible. I went on and on and on.

And then Abby said, What can I do better next time?

Just so you know, when a 12-year-old asks you this, the correct answer is, Oh, nothing, sweetheart.  You can’t possibly do any better than you did.  You were just wonderful!

And then you should shut up.

Seriously.

Shut.

Up.

Do not, under any circumstances, say something along the lines of: Well, maybe you could smile a little bit.

Or: It would be fun to see bigger movements.

Or, really, really don’t say something comparative, like: Your techniques were much better than the other groups, but their expression really made their dances interesting.

Saying those things would be dumb.

Saying those things would imply that you think that your daughter’s dance was boring.

Saying those things would probably make her cry and make you feel bad and undermine all of the good things you just said.

When I was younger, I was afraid I would grow up to be like my mother.

Now, I’m afraid I won’t.

The good news is, my friends’ daughter, little miss one-year-old Leigh, is showing some serious potential to fill the void I’ve created.

I was copied on an email message to my husband Greg last week, along with this photo:

The message read:

Greg, I thought you should know that when we were at the store the other night, Leigh kept pointing to this picture and saying “Geg, Geg.”  That’s you.  Congratulations!

Cocky or Confident? Get it?  (Sorry, y’all.)

So the next time Abby asks me “What can I do better next time?”, I’m sending in the big guns.

Mom and Baby Leigh, start your engines.  You’re going to be on duty for the next, oh, 25 years or so.

Raising the next generation of Cocky kids with a little help from my family and friends,

Beth