Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 25, 2010

Rivalry and losses make life all that more fun

Confessions of a Dislocated Texan

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — (Cue the black and white television ad with Mayberry type music) I bet you remember the time when little Johnny failed to hit the game winning home run or cross into the end zone for the last second touchdown and how disappointed he felt. He shed his tears and you were there to comfort him with the fact that this was only one game after all and that if he tried really hard he might just have better luck next time.

Well gee golly folks, I certainly am glad a soul crushing consolation prize like reality is no longer a problem for today’s little tykes. No sir, your young son and now daughter never have to fully understand the possible lessons they might learn from not being rewarded at every turn, because as long as they showed up, everyone deserves a prize. This ensures a future where no one’s feelings are ever hurt and all the bad things that make the world a scary place will simply disappear once they become outstanding adults.

Wait a second, you mean that the world we face as grown-ups still hasn’t become a 1950s sitcom since we started force feeding young minds with the lie that there’s no such thing as defeat? I’m shocked I tell you that the Beaver Cleaver mentality hasn’t caught on and that all students don’t graduate and that all professional athletes aren’t instantly champions at the end of each season.

Why surely if every team of kids is given a trophy and taken to McDonalds it will prepare them enough later on to all get equal paying careers. What do you mean that there’s no such thing as a place where competition isn’t brutal and resumes with no accomplishments get you the top spot in the company. It’s like there’s some kind of hint that you still have to work hard and sometimes be slightly better than average.

If that isn’t enough sarcasm for you stay tuned for the next column, but my biggest point here is that it is ok to admit that every day isn’t always the pinnacle moment of your life. I simply find it stunning when I hear how kids aren’t simply left to learn from losing and how parents can justify making it such a terrible thing.

Sure, you can be there to help them through struggles, but if children have to figure out how to improve how to actually do better after they’ve had a bad moment, it can be a heck of a lot more rewarding than making them happy at all costs. It’s a real world application that’s been abandoned all the way up to government where if you screw up and lose, all you have to do is wait until the next election to make the same mistake hoping you’ll get just enough dumb voters to push your agenda through. The proof is there because kids who have been raised with this we’re all winners philosophy only learn when to throw their next tantrum.

In the end, losing teaches us to form healthy rivalries and to overcome the mistakes that are ok to admit. Self esteem is important and bullies shouldn’t be encouraged, but sometimes learning something the hard way is the best way to get something done.

This leads me again to the old fact that governing bodies or even community groups don’t need to be involved in any part of the home decision making process. Advice is fine on a limited spectrum, but the quickest way we can make parenting go the worst route possible is to try and raise someone else’s child. My parents are proof positive guardians don’t need any help from anyone else putting the error in trial and error.