Monday, August 04, 2008

the apple needs to fall far from the tree

Helen: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.
Bob: It's not a graduation. He is moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade.
Helen: It's a ceremony!
Bob: It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional...

Overachiever parents. What's with that? I swear, if I hear one more mom or dad say "Good job!" because their little angel has taken a step, slid down a slide, managed to get most of it in the toilet, etc., etc., I'm going to scream. Being a kid is not a job, and being a parent shouldn't automatically embrace a sports mentality. But it seems to, these days. How far away is this sort of praise from Jeter slapping A-Rod on the butt or giving him a high-five after he drives in a homer? Not far. That is appropriate behavior at Yankee Stadium. At the public restroom in Target, not so much.

Why should everything a kid does be congratulated? Simple day-to-day tasks that we all have to master in our formative years are being rewarded, illustrated in the fantastic scene (dialogue above) from The Incredibles, where the "super" dad sums it up.

Of course all parents want to cheer their kids on. But the pushy stage-mother is just a prescription for heavy-duty psych bills in your child's future. Let's face it, they're going to have plenty to resent you for anyway, but did the fact that you were so busy ferrying them to soccer practice and ballet class and violin lessons and god-knows-what-else really benefit them in the long run? What about just letting them have a childhood, where they play and have fun?

How much of this over-booking is the desire to expose your kids to all the great stuff that's out there or simply mimicking our own crazy schedules? Or trying to live out your 'deprived" childhood through your kid?

It's a precarious balance. Hopefully the kids won't suffer for it. Because we don't really need any more Mileys/Britneys/Lindseys.

And if everything a kid does is so darn good, how do we gauge real excellence?

Dash: You always say 'Do your best', but you don't really mean it. Why can't I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.


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