I want my children to earn all the trophies they can, but I want them to have to work hard for those trophies. Trophies are desirable. Of course everyone wants a trophy. My kids want one just as much as everyone else. But when EVERYONE gets one, it makes it less special. Sure, it's cool at first, but when everyone gets one, it's meaningless. The kids that try really hard and practice for hours after school and on the weekends get the exact same thing as those that do NOTHING!!!! Is this how we really want to show our children that life work? I was never the kid who got the prize or the trophy, but I was also the kid that would rather read a book than practice kicking a soccer ball. I'm happy that my skills were never exaggerated. I'm so glad that my schooling celebrated those that tried hard rather than everyone's meager accomplishments.
One year when I was in private school, I had an exceptionally difficult year. I was 15 and it was my second year with a family that I had barely known. We were in a new town, a new state, and what seemed like an entirely new culture. It was a VERY small school and a tight-knit community. Well, the very best award in the whole school was the "Christian Character Award." Everyone spent the entire year striving toward this one award. It was the best. You couldn't possibly do better than this one. All year, we would speculate who we thought would receive the award. This year, my sister and I were sure that the teacher's daughter would get the award. I mean, why wouldn't she? She was smart, nice, beautiful and the teacher's daughter!!! Every other person had a reason to be eliminated from the pool of candidates. My sister had a bad attitude sometimes and I had picked a fight with the teacher's daughter. There was no way either of us would ever receive this prestigious award.
The big day finally came. We all waited, fingers crossed, for the final award that was the creme de la creme of the award ceremony for the whole year. There was no way either of us even stood a chance at the award. They called the names of some of the other kids and they gracefully accepted their awards, but they knew that since the got that one, they would likely not receive the best one of all. They finally got to the most coveted award announcement. We all held our breath. We all wanted it. We tried so hard all year and thought we deserved it, but we were also sure someone else would get it. Only the BEST one would get the Christian Character Award.
Well, let me tell you...this trophy is my most prized possession. I worked so hard for that darn trophy and I couldn't have been happier to receive it. It's the one item that has made it through every move I have made. It has made it through clutter purges, moving across the country, multiple houses, children, career changes and so much more. Every time I see it, I am reminded of a time when I did the very best I could and it was enough. It is quite the accomplishment.
If we had all received this award, it would have meant nothing to me. NOTHING!! It's like when you try really hard at work and you get the same raise as your coworkers that take off early, take twice as long as they should for lunch, complain all day and get almost nothing done all day. It makes your effort seem like a joke. It makes you wonder why you even try at all.
Our children feel the same way. Life isn't always about feeling good. Yes, it's great to feel good about your accomplishments, but sometimes, someone else did a little more and deserves the job or the raise a bit more than you. That's real life. Participation trophies are a slap in the face of those that try hard and deserve a little something extra for a job well done and the extra effort they out into whatever they were doing. Otherwise, why try at all? What's the point?
My daughter came home today with a "Star Performer' trophy around her neck. It was for her performance in the school talent show. I asked her about the other kids and how many others got the same trophy. She said that everyone got one. Even the kids that weren't at the talent show got a trophy. Let me say that again. Even the kids that WEREN'T AT THE TALENT SHOW got a trophy. The "star performer" trophy is not even for just those that performed!!! Is it just me or is this absolutely ridiculous? I asked my daughter if the people that didn't even show up deserved and award for performing and she said that they should get one because it might make them feel bad if they didn't get one. I guess I just don't understand it.
Do you feel the same or should all kids get the same recognition regardless of effort?