These days winning is everything ... and all too easy
THE afternoon traffic jam on the Grafton Bridge is back to being non-existent so you know that only means one thing - school's out for another year taking the lion's share of congestion (aka as the parade of parental pick ups) with it.
This phenomenon has been the cause of much frustration, not just for those trapped in the line of SUVs and half-empty buses, but also how this generation of chauffeur-driven, multi prize-winning, graduating academics of primary school are going to fare in years to come.
They have already lived very successful, full lives before they've hit their teens, graduating from the university of pre-school in the same style cap and gown adult students spend a minimum of 16 years in educational institutions to earn the privilege.
Sure it's novel and cute and seemingly harmless and you're only four so well done on achieving that masters in Play-Doh expressionism.
Well done mum and dad for making such a gifted and talented little Einstein. We don't have enough of them these days, except, well would you look at that, they're everywhere.
Same thinking applies to all those merit awards and certificates that seem to be as prolific as Facebook suggests rewarding kids for just about everything from turning up to school to breathing.
I'm all for positive reinforcement but how many is enough? One a term, month, week, hour?
Would there be a single primary school student these days that didn't bring home anything in a year? Now that kid does deserve a certificate!
Where does the lustre and clout of these well meaning devices of encouragement and growing self-esteem pan out to if everyone wins a prize... ALL THE TIME?
It's a sure-fire way of losing the art of being pleased for someone else for their achievements while you miss out.
I recall a recent youth art comp that had 32 winners of some description.
It was obviously not the Archibald but hey maybe having some finalists and one ultimate winner might be too cruel in post modern school 2016, but 32?
This fervour to constantly reward and award parents, I mean kids, has too spread to social events like birthday parties where god forbid anyone goes home empty handed.
Those "time to leave" goodie bags don't count now. Oh, look you stuck the tail on the donkey's carotid artery. Good job, here's a prize.
There's an expectation to win something at every turn and layer despite the actual result. Still it would have been nice to know that back in 1994. Following the same "one prize only" Pass the Parcel formula as you remember from your own 1976 birthday party is poor form and likely to induce tantrums and extreme disappointment. And that's just the parents.
So what exactly are we instilling here?
Winning is easy.
You can't feel good unless you win something. Everyone's a winner baby can't you see... yada, yada, yada.
All I know, if a kid doesn't get a party game right then not winning a prize should be okay. It's also okay if someone else wins that prize in front of you.
If they do something noteworthy at school sure give them the odd reward but be consistent with what they are handing them out for.
There's a fine line between acknowledging genuine achievement and overindulgence.
These tiny graduates still have a few lessons to learn in resilience and achievement but it's at the mercy of the system or climate in which they learn it.
In no time at all it will prove to be either a help or a hindrance down the track of life, where there are no guarantees no matter how many merit awards or goodie bags you may have up your sleeve.