I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past week. How we’ve become so precious about our children and about parenting in general. And I certainly don’t mean precious in an over protective or good way either. What sparked it all was the Valentines day celebrations which are happening in varying degrees across schools around the country at this very moment!
I have two children. That means two sets of V-day celebrations to prepare for (remember when V-day was about your secret crush in high school or your love?) Not so much anymore. Now my 6 year old was assigned a boy she had to buy a gift and create a card for in her class, with a note attached saying that we could also send something for the teachers and …. oh…. don’t forget the admin staff. And my not-even-3 year old had to create a V-day card for every person in her class, in the spirit of teaching kids the value of receiving a thoughtful card as apposed to always receiving a gift.
It’s a really beautiful sentiment but here’s my problem. And I’m going to be blunt, heck, I’m going to call a spade a space and you may not agree but know that at least I’m being honest. At what point do we stop creating this fantasy world for our children? At what point do they get booted from this cutesy fantasy world where a crappy homemade card (and I’m not being cruel, I love what my children make for me, but I certainly don’t want to display or cherish every crappy homemade card made by everyone elses kids) is worth more than a gift, a chocolate, a flower or even just time spent hanging out together?
The thing is, at some point in the next few years, our children are going to start growing up and live in the real world. A world where not everyone gets a card, or a chocolate or a flower on Valentines day. A world where as an awkward teen they’re going to realize that they’re not the popular girl that we taught them they were because some boy was assigned to buy them a gift on V-day when they were 6 or because they got a dozen cards for V-day at age 2 (almost 3).
I know, I learned that lesson and it sucked. Sitting in assembly in high school on V-day, an awkward teenage with freckles and braces, watching as all the girls collected their roses and cards and notes from the boys at our brother school and I never got anything. Not a damn thing and it sucked but you know what? It’s the real world and it happens every day as a grown up. You’ll be past over by someone, you’re not going to be the smartest, the fastest, the prettiest, the best at everything. You’re just NOT. That’s not real life. And even if you are the smartest, the fastest, the prettiest, it doesn’t last, there is always someone who will surpass you.
Why does V-day even have to be a thing for kids? Heck, why does V-day even have to be a thing? It’s stupid and means nothing. If you want an excuse to buy me a chocolate, just do it because you love me or were thinking of me, any day of the week or year!
And that brings me to my next point. And I am SO very conflicted about this because I want to protect my children and I want to make every experience nice for them but that’s not real life. And sometimes in our desire to be so precious, we actually hurt and confuse them more with the mixed messages. This newish thing of everyone getting an award or a prize. What utter bullshit? How very unfair on the people who have excelled. How very unfair on the person who hasn’t, let’s reward them for not performing, lets reward them for simply showing up. How do we strive to be better, to do better in a world that rewards our kids for simply showing up?
We’re not all going to be rocket scientists so can we award the child that is? Because every one of us has a strength and rocket science isn’t for everyone, so you’ll get your award and recognition somewhere but it doesn’t have to be for showing up to rocket science classes.
I’m so conflicted! But I also feel that all of these activities designed to teach our children valuable life lessons are instead setting them up for a life of entitlement and expectation.
You may not always or ever get anything on V-day. You may not ever win the race. You may not ever be the smartest kid. But you will be good and you will excel at something and I’d rather focus on finding your passion and your excellence in that than rewarding you for mediocrity.
Also on the topic of V-day just so my husband knows, while I am looking forward to the gawdy, jagged heart shaped cards that drop glitter everywhere, from my children, if my husband comes home with a badly drawn and roughly cut out heart with a glitter factory dumped on it, I will drop kick you two ways to next Sunday because yes, while I’m sure you were also taught that it’s the thought that counts, you can do better!