03/20/2013 12:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Dear Daughter, Please Be Average

I don't need you to cure cancer or make straight A's, I don't want to see you struggle and feel deflated. All I ask is that you just be average.

Don't confuse average for normal. If you want to move to the beat of your own drum, please do! But when it comes to other aspects of life, just stick to average. Set realistic goals, do your best, and be proud of what you accomplish. That's it, average is just fine.

As a teacher, I've seen kids at all ends of the learning curve. I've taught the brightest of the bright (I'm talking genius here, should've gone from 4th grade to college), and I've seen the lowest of the low. I watched the genius struggle with relating to his peers, often getting frustrated that they didn't want to discuss kinetic energy and rocket science on the playground. I watched my struggling students look at me with eyes that said, "I don't get it, and I'm too embarrassed to raise my hand again." I've seen a little girl cry over a 98 on a test because it wasn't a 100, and I've seen a boy rejoice over getting a 70 on an assignment because he actually passed. I've seen their faces, shared their struggles and accomplishments, and knew that above all, I just wanted them to leave school each day with a smile. I don't want either of those extremes for my child. I want her, too, to leave each school day with a smile, knowing that she did the best she could.

As a parent, I've seen the babies that sit up early, the ones that are crawling all over the place while others stay idle. I've heard stories of babies that never learn to crawl, that stand before they sit, and that don't sleep through the night until they're a year old. I've heard of preschools being chosen based on where their graduates attend high school. I've overheard conversations where mothers lie about when their child reached certain milestones. I don't need my daughter to be ahead of the curve, and I certainly don't want her to fall behind. Middle of the pack is just fine with me.

What does it all mean? Why does it matter if your child is the first to crawl or the last to finish his math test? Why do parents get so fixated on where their child fits on the bell curve?

To me, if they're happy and healthy, it doesn't matter.

I certainly don't expect my daughter to make perfect grades or to win the Nobel Prize. I don't want her to feel embarrassed in class because she isn't grasping a new concept, and I don't want her bogged down with tutors so that she can stay afloat at school. I want her to be able to relate to her peers and feel comfortable in her own skin.

All I want for her is to be average. Happy, healthy, and beautifully average.

Because the truth is, sweet girl, in your daddy's and my eyes, you'll always be extraordinary.