“My brain is kinda different..”

When I saw this video, it brought tears to my eyes.  Berrik could be in this video.  What is most sad to me, is how our school system and our society is just not set up for kids like these kids.  Regardless of whether anyone says to these kids that they are ‘bad’ or not smart enough, they ‘sense’ that they are different, and from that they assume they are ‘bad’.  At least that was our experience.  Berrik took months to get over feeling like he was somehow not smart enough, or not well behaved.  The truth is he is very smart – well, ‘average’ anyways if those ridiculous IQ tests can be believed.  And he is incredibly well-behaved.  And like all kids, he just wants to succeed.

Unfortunately society and our school system tells us what ‘success’ looks like.  We are all guilty.  I have 2 kids who are in competitive activities where winning is a goal, and winning is celebrated.  They have good marks at school and we celebrate that too. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this, as long as winning isn’t EVERYTHING, and there are lessons in the losing, and lessons about commitment and hard work.  But for a kid like Berrik, ‘winning’ in this conventional sense, isn’t in the cards for him.  He works harder and is more committed than anyone I know.  Yet he won’t have gold medals in sports, and he won’t likely be valedictorian (although, you never know…the kid is pretty smart).  In our family we have tried to redefine success, and homeschooling allows us to celebrate success without comparing to other kids.  Berrik is a great skiier, and does well on his bike.  He has fun doing these activities, and that is all that matters.  But I come from a family where success in school and sports has always been celebrated, and has always been a big deal.  My brother was/is a star athlete with good grades.  I was a star student with moderate athletic success.  My girls do well in their respective activities. My niece and nephew win at pretty much everything they do, athletics and scholastically. Berrik sees this and knows he doesn’t ‘win’ like everyone else.  It’s heartbreaking.  And inescapable.  Thinking that he will grow up always sensing that he doesn’t measure up makes me feel sick to my stomach.  Because he does measure up.  In every important way.  He’s kind and generous, loving, hard working, funny, and just about the sweetest kid that ever existed.  This morning he woke me up by saying, “Good morning my most favorite mom!”  There should be gold medals for kids like Berrik.

I know a lot of kids feel they don’t measure up to society’s expectations of success.  I know adults who feel they don’t measure up.  Berrik isn’t unique in this.  I can only hope that showing Berrik every single day that he is winning in the biggest ways will be enough. ​ In the race for best human being, he is in the lead.  I hope he grows up knowing this and realizing how much of a winner that makes him.



  1. Lucy says:

    It is amazing what you’re doing for Berrick Chandra. I wish every parent could learn from you. As a teacher and parent, I try to encourage all my kids to best themselves rather than beating others. Berrick should be so proud of all his accomplishments thus far. Everyday he is besting himself and your support is what’s keeping him going. Keep it up! You inspire us all. I just wish more kids had parents like you.

  2. Monica Svendsen says:

    Chandra… so much of what you say is heartbreakingly true, I don’t know how soon we will see changes in our society, but one thing I know is that people like you… more specifically parents and families like yours DO make a difference not only in your child’s life but those who surround you. You are bringing awareness and perspective to everyone that reads your words. You are leading by example. Berrik, McKenna and Avi will be successful in whatever they choose to do because you are providing them with unconditional love and support, and because you are raising them to be kind human beings. And that is something this world needs more of. You are and exemplary mom!!

    • Thank you Monica. I appreciate your kind words and I truly hope that things will change at some point. However I feel as though it’s getting worse rather than better. As you say, all we can do is try to lead by example and hope others do too. I find it hard given the girls’ competitive activities, but we try to show them that working hard, having fun, and being good people are what we truly value in them as opposed to the number of gold medals they bring home.

  3. Love this! It’s not just about achieving – but our whole society is based around that. Your son sounds like a wonderful person and you should rightly be proud of him 🙂

    • Yes. It is definitely the way our society is set up. In whatever ways we can we need to help kids understand that working hard, enjoying what we do, and being good people are really the measures of success. Not the number of gold medals. It’s a tough balance for me as I have a competitive dancer as well as a daughter who competes as part of a high achieving choir. I want to celebrate their success without taking anything away from our son, but st the same time, I still want the girls to know that working hard, enjoying themselves and being good humans are the critical lessons from their experiences in competitions.

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