We were watching Survivor – One World last night and at Tribal Council something that was said jumped out at me. Kat, as seen below, screwed up the immunity challenge and was trying to convince the others not to send her home.
She said that she felt absolutely terrible because she had never failed at anything. Jeff asked her incredulously if she was saying that she had never failed at anything in her life before. She said that she had never attempted to do anything that she wasn’t certain she would succeed in. Wow. How sad. She either has incredible hubris or she has never seen the value of testing herself before. I am reminded of the proverb, those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. I think Kat is going to leave in a tight fitting white coat.
But it makes me wonder about how many kids are being set up to fail because as parents we want them to succeed. The media is full of endless diatribes against parents who schedule every moment of their kids lives, who make endless excuses for them and who attack anyone and anything perceived as an obstacle to the child’s success. I can see no example as clear as the stereotypical hockey mom/dad, whose self worth and future happiness has become inextricably entwined with their child’s success on the ice. Verbal and physical assault on referees, coaches and other kids are completely appropriate to that parent because if their child fails then the parent must face the fact that the sword has fallen on the Gordian knot of their own goals. Pity little Johnny who at 12 was the star of the team and at 14 has past his peak and can only play house league. Little Johnny has just sacrificed 10 years of his life to something and doesn’t know how to start fresh because no one spoke truth to him. No one made sure that he knew most kids don’t grow up and join NHL teams.
I keep telling Milo that I am not saying or doing things to be mean but just dealing with the truth of the matter.
A simple example occurred this morning. Milo was heading down to breakfast and asked me how he looked. I told him that his clothes looked good but his hair looked like it had been styled by a blind scarecrow looking for some help in the fields. He was hurt and insulted until he looked in the mirror. Suddenly, he decided the hairbrush might not hurt him as much as his hairdo was going to hurt his reputation.
A more interesting example is that Milo is trying to convince his mother and me that we should allow him to quit the book club that he joined at school. In fact, last night a more tearful and incoherent child could not be found as he burst from the bedroom that we were certain he had been asleep in. Multiple attempts were made to figure out the cause of the hysteria and in the end, it appears that he is afraid he can’t read the five books in three months that he committed to read. He couldn’t face that he would fail. Tragically for Milo, his mother and I have hardened hearts reminiscent of cold-war era KGB interrogators. We brutally forced him to admit that his penchant for watching 3-4 hours of TV each night did not help him achieve the goal of reading a book. Despite further tears and accusations that I’d best not write down, we held fast to our point that we were not rubbing his face in his failure but simply telling him the truth. He will also need to face the truth that TV time just got shortened. See how we support our child by removing obstacles to failure. My arm is sore from patting myself on the back.
Disclaimer: The photo above was taken from the Survivor – One World website. I am certain that it is legally encumbered by a mountain of protection from misuse, distribution etc. By no means am I attempting to claim any right etc. to the photo and fully acknowledge that ownership of the photo was, is and ever shall be with the producers of the show. My inclusion of the photo was to add colour to my blog, to accredit the show with making me think about a wider issue and it was certainly not an effort to create excitement by having a bikini clad woman titillating my readers.