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The Therapy Sessions
Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Celebrating mediocrity

I'm not alone.

My wife and I did not go my son's graduation party at his day care. It seemed pointless and stupid. For my act of rebellion, I endured the disapproving stares from day care workers who take themselves far too seriously.

What did we miss? Something like this:
Recently, I sat in the school cafeteria, surrounded by parents, grandparents, video cameras and bouquets of flowers. We all watched a stunning PowerPoint slideshow, listened to comments from speakers and applauded enthusiastically when the students strolled by wearing graduation caps and attire. Diplomas were granted, gifts were bestowed and tears were shed. A celebration brunch followed. What a proud day.

Welcome to preschool graduation.

....We are raising a generation of children who expect bigger, better, more, faster, fancier at every turn. Small wonder that my children expect to be paid for even the simplest of things, such as making their beds or helping take out the trash. No surprise that the 5-year-old ballerina seated next to me at a dance recital asked her parents, "Did you buy me flowers?"

I'm not just a grump.

Well, I am a grump, but there is something more important at stake here: when everything is celebrated, then nothing is. When you have a party for every grade change, what do you when your child really accomplishes something?

What will these kids expect when they graduate from college? By giving them prizes for mediocrity, what do you give them for excellence?

It's even infected sports:

No longer is the game MVP the player who actually outperformed the others. I congratulated my son for earning the "Player of the Game" certificate after a recent baseball game. "Oh, Mom," he said, "It doesn't mean I actually played a good game. They always give this to the kid who played the worst so he won't feel bad." Are we supposed to frame this certificate and hang it on the wall?

Oh brother.

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