As the sleepy, school-free days of August dissipate, many Canadian families begrudgingly start preparing themselves for what might best be described as "September madness."

The chaos of September

This is the calendar month that represents the return of pre-dawn alarms, lunch-making, the frantic rush out the door to catch honking busses or carpools, and all manner of other rituals that signal the official end of summer. In our family, it also means any meager disposable income we had for those two glorious summer months is now devoured by deposits for school supplies and field trips, pre-payments for piano lessons and youth group retreats, and registrations for myriad fall and winter sports programs.

Being okay with your average child

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my kids grow and develop through the opportunities I am blessed to provide for them. Still, I sometimes find myself struck with a mix of mild disappointment and peaceful resignation that my kids are average. From what I can see so far, no matter how many private lessons, elite training sessions, or AAA sports programs I pay for, my kids are no Sidney Crosby, Yo-yo Ma, Miley Cyrus, or Lauren Bay Regula (star pitcher on Canada’s 2008 Olympic softball team). And guess what? The more I learn about kids and healthy development, the more I should be OK with that.

Parents need to be content with the fact that most kids are just plain plain. I can’t count how many parents I’ve seen in arenas, on athletic fields or at music recitals that are driving themselves and their kids into the ground trying to keep up schedules and expectations that leave our tanks – emotional and vehicular – dry. Encouraging our kids to achieve their potential is one thing, but demanding that they be the best at everything is simply unrealistic. Real life means it’s OK for kids to just be kids.

Ordinary kids are actually extraordinary

As we parents come to terms with the new school year ahead of us, we can take great pride in the fact that our kids are just one of the team, that they only had to re-start that recital piece twice, and that they are just an all around "neat kid." In a strange way, ordinary kids are extraordinary creations, and if you’ve got one putting dents in your garage door with a hockey puck because he just can’t seem to hit the net, like I do, suddenly "September madness" doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Dr. Kelly Dean Schwartz is a developmental psychologist at the University of Calgary. A husband and father of three, he is founder of FamilyWise Canada, an education and research directive focusing on positive family development.

© 2013 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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