If everyone’s special…

If everyone’s special…

Bless. It’s that time of year again. The time my fellow aspirational child-rearers across The Pond regale us underachieving parents in Blighty with their kids’ year-end accomplishments and awards ceremonies on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and every other social media outlet known to man. The time when I see nothing but a running feed of updates on little Timmy’s reading award, Mia’s skipping award (huh?) and little Luka clutching with glee his perfect attendance certificate, (ranking just behind ‘Most Improved’) Yikes.

With no whiff of irony, last week I saw a ‘totes adore’ #tbt post of a friend’s toddler boy in a paper mortarboard ‘graduating’ from the INFANT ROOM of his nursery. Wait. It gets better… this trip down memory lane was in honour of said boy’s upcoming graduation… no folks, still no degree or diploma of any iteration attached… but from PRE-Kindergarten. So as a reminder, passing from nursery to kindergarten is not an achievement, people; it’s a natural consequence of time. Still this madness occurs on an epic scale across the vast continent we know as the grand ole’ US of A, and is spreading like a viral plague.

It’s always around now when I’m fondly reminded of one of my favourite Pixar films, when Mr. Incredible bemoans having to attend his son’s elementary school ‘graduation’, lamenting our ever more inventive means of celebrating mediocrity. “It’s psychotic!” Later, as Mrs. Incredible explains to Dash that “everyone‘s┬áspecial,” her clued-up son swiftly retorts, “if everyone’s special, then nobody is.” Quite.

On some level aren’t we doing our children a great disservice? The law of diminishing marginal returns (see Mum? I always knew that expensive economics degree would eventually come in handy) suggests, having marked every anodyne and otherwise inconsequential event in their lives from birth, that when something genuinely worthy of recognition does occur, (say like, oh I don’t know, a REAL diploma with an eye chart of letters attached) it’s unlikely our kids would know to appreciate its significance. And further, how on earth are they meant to identify, let alone strive for, true excellence if we’ve raised them to believe everything they do is so groundbreakingly news worthy and remarkable? We’re bringing up a generation headed for a crash landing of epic proportions when they finally come to the bruising reality that they are NOT the center of the universe. Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark.

The thing is, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not immune to this penchant for putting my kids on a pedestal. There are times I have to curtail the urge of my itchy, twitchy thumb from uploading every oh-so-cute milestone or mediocre achievement of my offspring into cyber space for all and sundry to marvel and throw back admiring comments and self-affirming ‘Likes’. Only last week The Man wisely advised I refrain from posting my eldest’s violin concert onto Facebook. The mere suggestion was met with a scowl of withering disdain saying ‘don’t be a twat.’ Harsh. But it was oh so tempting. Reading award?! Pah! Check out my budding Yehudi Menuhin. (No really, he was pretty damn good and only 5! See what I mean?) And he would be right. Nobody but me and a handful of family are really bothered and so I resist, knowing doing so says more about my own need for validation than anything else. It’s little coincidence most guilty parents also enjoy referring to their progeny as their ‘mini-me’s', surely one of the more grotesque displays of narcissism of the 21st century. Barf. But I get it, we’re all entitled to our proud parent moments; we all want our children to be amazing, special and unique and shout it from the rooftops. But let’s be honest, oftentimes it’s more for our own vicarious self-fulfilment than anything else. Right, and on that note I’m off. Time for the boys’ Mandarin lessons.






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