Where’s MY Trophy?

I love people.  You might think from all the times I tell you I hate people that I don’t really love people, but I do.  LOVE.  I was working in the nursery Saturday night because I like to get my baby fix help my church community.  I work in the toddler room because they’re too young to start telling you no, but old enough that they can move around and play.  The girls and I volunteer one weekend a month, but had to switch so we were on an off weekend.  I had never worked with this other lady before and she was a hoot. 

I cringe when people ask me what I do for a living.  I should probably have a canned answer ready, but I don’t.  I usually just end up stumbling and say I lost my job in September.  I guess I could lie, but I’m in church so that’s probably not good.  I found out that this lady had lost her job three years ago.  Yikes.  Then we started talking about kids.  My older two work with me and I always give them the crying one so they don’t start thinking toddlers are fun to have around for more than an hour at a time.  She asked Sunshine about school and told me her youngest was 19 and basically a loser.  (Ha!)  Oh my gosh, did I find another oversharer?  LOVE.IT.  She said that he barely graduated high school and only because he did 10 essays the week of graduation so they let him walk and he made up the rest of it afterwards. 

I think a lot about how times have changed since I was in school.  Sunshine gets to retake tests if needed and make up assignments not turned in.  I feel like when I was in high school, you got what you got and there wasn’t as much leeway.  I know these schools need to show improvement and they’re completely geared towards standardized testing, but come on.  Do you really let a guy who’s coasted the whole year make up 10-15 assignments in order to graduate?  Where are the consequences?  Are we going to start getting participation trophies for school now?  You get an A, you get an A, you get an A!! (done in my best Oprah voice) 

I also wonder when it changed.  I don’t remember getting participation trophies in softball.  I feel like we had to win a tournament or come in 2nd or 3rd in order to get a trophy, but when my kids played soccer they got a trophy every year and no one even kept score.  I like that my younger two are involved in school sports now because it’s starting to get serious.  Not serious like anyone’s going to the Olympics for volleyball, but they both won the city tournament for their schools and divisions this year.   Of course there weren’t trophies but they did get ribbons and their names on banners going up in their respective gyms.  There were winners and losers.

Why should everyone win?  And if everyone wins, no one really wins, right?  Moonshine’s middle school used to have an IB program that was separate from the rest of the school or the general population as I like to call them.  That’s where Sunshine went and she was tracked into this high school she goes to.  Now, that same middle school has opened up the whole school to the IB program.  You’re going to have to do your own research on the IB program because it’s too complicated for me to explain. 

When Sunshine went there, the entire IB program was enrolled in honors classes and separate, but now there are different levels of it and the students are responsible for getting into the classes they need.  For this reason,  when Moonshine started her 8th grade year she was in all remedial classes because she hadn’t gotten the signatures needed.  I was one of probably 10 families that went to her back-to-school night and I told the first teacher the goal to get her into the high school we wanted and she said, Have you thought about putting her in honors classes?  Well, because previously the IB program had only been honors classes, that’s where I thought she was.  Needless to say, I was not thrilled and Moonshine got an earful.  We went to the counselor and got her in the classes she needed and now she’s not applying herself.  Great. 

The whole point is that if everyone’s great then no one’s really great, right?  If everyone gets a trophy, doesn’t that take the value of that trophy down?  What happened to having winners and losers?  Can no one lose anymore?  That’s not life.  What are we setting kids up for?  The first time Sunshine, or anyone, misses a deadline at work or needs a second chance at something work-related, she’s going to have a rude awakening.  I feel like we’re coddling kids more than when I was a kid.  And I don’t mean to sound like someone’s grandma, but really, I know I’m not the only one that’s noticed this.  I’m not original in my thinking and I’m sure a lot of people have written on the topic a lot better than I have so this is just my two cents.  And I haven’t read anyone who thought a participation trophy was a good idea, so who makes these decisions anyway?

I’m going to leave with this.  Sunshine and I went to see Waiting for Superman through our school system.  They were offering it at one of the high schools for free.  There were only about 20 people and some brought their toddlers, which I’ll never understand, there’s no real Superman in the movie, but I digress.  One thing that stuck with me is they talked about how the United States isn’t the highest in math or any of the subjects offered in school, but they are number one in the world in self-confidence.  As you can see by the ridiculous amount of idiots on YouTube, Americans sure do have a lot of self-confidence.  Johnny can’t read or add, but he has boundless selfesteem.  Good for him.



  1. heidi

    120% AGREE!!! I actually work with 7th & 8th grade (special ed) kids, and the idea of “Participation Awards” for the so-called regular kids is ludacris!!! The special ones, maybe, and I really think that would be dependent upon HOW special they are. I mean, if they are able to read, write, do enough math to not be robbed blind at McDonald’s, and could conceivably become a productive member of society, then they should get the grade they have earned, and to heck with a silly ribbon!!

    I also agree that letting these kids redo their work UMPTEEN TIMES until they are able to get to a 70% is crap. They already only have to do half (or less) of the work that the “regulars” do, and the stuff is read to them, and an aide (me) usually sits beside them to tell them what page/paragraph/sentence the answer is in, not to mention taking open book tests, so the idea that they get to redo and redo and redo until they manage to get a 70% is just wrong. I feel like there are enough modifications made already that they should get one chance (just like we did, back in the day) and that should be that. But as I have been told, I was hired “from the neck down” and not for my brain, so…..basically I am a warmm body, used to keep kiods kicked between the behavioral lines, so to speak.

    Still want a job? If mine opens up (and you are willing to move back to OK) you can have it!!

    • So I wonder who decided Participation Trophies were the way to go then. When was the shift? And while I’m sure your job is fulfilling in some way, I don’t think I could pretend to like kids for that long, but Thanks!!

      • heidi

        I don’t know whose bright idea participation awards were, but it was probably the same group of people who thought “No Child Left Behind” would be a good thing…There are just always going to be some people who NEED to be left behind…as my 18 yr old said, “Why should we spend all that money on kids who are never going to contribute to the betterment of our country??”

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