Today I want to tell you about an experience I had early in my career as a parent of teenagers. I'm not proud of myself, BTW.

Keep reading and you'll definitely see why.

So there I was sitting through an end-of-the-year school assembly, pretty much watching OTHER people's children win awards.

Not only that, but it was pretty much the same kids (not mine) winning the awards. They kept trooping up to the stage over and over, back and forth.

Well. Good for those kids. Seriously. Their achievements — academic, athletic, artistic — were amazing.

They totally deserved recognition. But here's the thought that came out of nowhere and hit me like a big truck moving fast: I. WANT. MY. KIDS. TO. BE. THE. STARS.

At that moment sitting in the auditorium, I wanted it so bad I felt like tripping any kid who'd been up to the stage more than once.

Which scared me a lot. Was I turning into one of those uber-competitive moms who ends up in a Lifetime movie because she puts out a hit on her daughter's cheerleading rivals?

(The answer is no. I don't have daughters. And also I don't live in Texas.) OK. Now you can see why I'm not proud of myself. I was being completely shallow.

Also envious, although the envy part is perhaps understandable. Parents naturally want their kids to have a huge helping of Life's Good Stuff — especially if they have a kid who struggles.

And (let's be truthful) parents also want their efforts as parents validated. Hey! Lookee here! My kid is a great student! He's got all those certificates in his folder! Which means I must be a great parent!

The problem is that envy is an ugly emotion — especially when it's directed at kids by YOU, the alleged grown-up. Come on.

How low can a mother go?

(The answer is "lower." You could take a hit out on your daughter's cheerleading rivals, for example.) Still, I was sooooo troubled by my jealous reaction that I had to have a very stern conversation with myself about what I really believe, which is this: All kids are fabulous, the ones who don't win prizes and the ones who do.

Your kids are fabulous because of the way they move and the way they sound when something makes them laugh and the way they look standing there on your front porch, backlit by the sun. They're fabulous because of the way they inhale the world and because of the stories they tell (or don't tell) about the thrilling, mysterious messy experience of it all.

They're fabulous because they have your father's rounded shoulders and your grandmother's taste for off-colored jokes, and whenever you see them you think of the people you loved before they arrived.

They're fabulous because you remember (vividly!) the day they did arrive and how you marveled and hoped with all of your sore happy heart for them, not fully realizing, perhaps, that they had already come with their bags packed.

But that's the beauty of it! Your kids are fabulous because they are exactly who they are. Bottom line, they are whole human beings with whole complicated lives, of which parents are a part — but only a part — which means you (the parent) should think twice about taking all the blame. Or even all the credit.


E-mail: acannon@desnews.com