Pixar’s THE INCREDIBLES contains solid life lessons. Here’s my favorite:
Elastigirl ( Helen) doesn’t understand why Mr. Incredible (Bob) won’t go to Dash’s “Graduation”.
BOB: “It’s not graduation! He’s moving from the fourth grade to the fifth grade!”
HELEN: “It’s a ceremony”
BOB: “It’s psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity…”
Mediocrity is often celebrated. It’s so entrenched in American life now, that “average” has morphed into exceptional. Bad is acceptable.
All my sons played AYSO soccer for at least one “season”. The middle son played on a team that wasn’t good even by AYSO standards. With two games left in the season, the team mom approached me and said she needed $15 for ‘the trophies’. I managed what I thought was a well-thought-out…” what?” She repeated her scripted demand. I said: “Ah, Karen (not her real name), they’re in 6th place… my son doesn’t want a 6th place trophy”. She was stunned and looked at me like I had just set her shih-tzu on fire. She sputtered out: “but, but, they played hard…and they deserve our support!” “Well,” I said, “I’m ok with supporting the team, Karen…but, yeah, a trophy for mediocrity is not my idea of building character… sorry, I think it sends the wrong message”.
With a deer-in-headlights look of horror, Karen said: “But, but, I already bought them!” – “Well,” I said, “I guess you now have a backup”. She blinked several times (I think that meant she couldn’t find an answer in her psychobabble glossary). To her credit, she recovered and told me the team would pay for my son’s trophy. I leaned into her personal space, and I was more direct: “If you or the coach try to give my son a 6th place trophy, its next home will be the nearest trashcan.” Karen walked away and found a group of moms to chat up. Like clockwork, they all turned and looked at me like I had skinned all of their Shih-Tzus and was wearing their hides as a hat.
I was fine with supporting the economy by overpaying for plastic trophies, but rewarding mediocrity? Nope. We skipped the team party. No need to push more buttons. Coming in 6th place was – 6th place. My kid learned from the experience. He tried his best. That’s good. They came in 6th. That’s not good.
Ever watch American Idol? Of course, you did. People belching out truly awful vocals was the show’s highlight. “It’s a NO from me dawg” would strike them like a tsunami – the wave of utter shock enveloped them. They’ve been told all their lives how “good” they are, but when reality consumes their dreams, they drown.
Sorry, not everyone’s a winner. Trophies for 6th place delude children with a bogus sense of accomplishment. Many school districts are dumping “Gifted-student” status because it hurts the feels of those students who are not gifted so – canceled. Trophies for everyone.
“Everyone’s a winner!” is cancer. Parents awarding their kids for showing up shouldn’t be surprised when their progeny calls home after a job interview and plaintively wails: “Mom!, I didn’t get the job… you told me I was special!”