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And the Award Goes To. . . Everyone

Nov
19
2008

We all know one: people who need constant praise and approval. High maintenance black holes of validation neediness, they suck all available energy into the vortex of their insecurity.
One person like this at a party makes for an early evening. Two people like this in the same room cause fights. Three or more makes up a cable reality show.
How about an entire culture of attention seekers? I’m convinced that is what we’ve become.
This thought occurred to me over the course of these past few weeks when we were asked to attend a few ceremonies recognizing our youngest son, Heir 2. No, I’m not going to bore you with an annoying list of his accomplishments, valid or otherwise, because this is part of my point. Such programs are common when you are a parent since the educational system is convinced that every child must be praised and recognized every time they remember not to punch in the face of someone who looks at them funny or for every sneeze they remember not to spray all over everyone.
It is my particular opinion the rise of this sort of thing occurred along with the popularity of personal computers. Suddenly official-looking certificates could be printed out at a moment’s notice, causing a sudden increase in awards ceremonies.
So far the only positive reaction to this glorification is that the kids are happy to be released from their classes. I remember leaving one afternoon ceremony as the students were being let out of school for the day where the parking lot was littered with “award certificates” folded into paper airplanes. Kids can smell a con.
Even worse than this is the insinuation of Hollywood-esque recognition being meted out like cheap candy at a firemen’s parade. It’s one thing to recognize Merle Streep as a superior actor by giving her with an Academy Award for her work in Sophie’s Choice. It’s another to find some hormone-soaked population mix to bestow any kind of award to Jessica Simpson, thereby encouraging her continued participation in the entertainment industry.
It’s baffling to me why people are awarded for simply doing their job. I’m not among those who spontaneously jump to my feet and applaud when someone announces they’re a teacher or a doctor or a nurse, mostly because, having worked at a bank, I know they wouldn’t have done their job if I hadn’t done mine – payroll.
Nothing annoys me more than trying to find a close parking spot at a store with notoriously poor service and seeing the only convenient spot is labeled “Employee of the Month.” And it’s empty – the Employee of the Month having called in “sick” that morning, I suppose.
Parents of school-age children fall into this category too. Having already blown the cover off the whole Mothers’ Day racket, I will continue to point out that having shot out a couple kids does not a mother make, so spare me the “most important job in the world” platitudes and I’ll take a comprehensive health care plan over that sad-looking certificate, thankyouverymuch.
I was particularly befuddled by one ceremony we were invited to attend as parents of Heir 2. It was during half time of the high school football game and somehow connected to the marching band, of which my son is a member. At this particular ceremony our names were announced, at which point Heir 2 left his post in the band formation and was handed a rose which he handed to me. Then, as the announcer talked about Heir 2′s plans for the future (none of which include marching, a band or music), my son escorted us out onto the field where we stood while other senior members of the band and their parents went through the same ritual.
Our conversation on the field went something like this:
Me: I didn’t realize you were that accomplished a drummer.
Heir 2: I’m not.
Me: So you were a good leader…
Heir 2: Nope.
Me: So why are we here?
Heir 2: I showed up for all four years of marching band.
Me: . . . because you got into games for free.
Heir 2: Aren’t you proud?
Me: And the rose?
Heir 2: You’re my mom. And you let me be in the band.
Me: . . . because you got into games for free.
Heir 2: You’re a saint. Well. . . you never beat me over the head with a blunt object.
So there you have it. I let him show up for band and I never beat him over the head with a blunt object.
Where’s my certificate?

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 11:41 AM | Permalink

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