When I lived in Small Town, USA, I was hired as a teacher in a new charter school. This charter school was promoting their "classical education", which is why I was hired, because I had homeschooled my own children for many years with a classical program, designed around the Trivium and outlined in my well-worn copy of The Well-Trained Mind. I was asked to help write the curriculum for the school since the two founders/owners really had no experience with classical education (One of them, in a radio interview promoted our school as preparatory to an "Ivory League" college. . .yeah.) Anyway, despite its pathetic roots, we did have a great vision for this little school in this little town, and the job itself, coming just at the tail end of my divorce, was a huge blessing to me.
We needed to come up with a slogan for the school, which would be printed on the back of the t-shirts. My dad, who also taught there for a short time, came up with "Mad at Mediocrity", which I still love. The only problem was that wherever we wore those shirts in Small Town, USA, people couldn't pronounce 'mediocrity', let alone know what it means. So I'm not convinced they were 'mad' at it.
But I am.
I am not a mom who supports kindergarten 'graduations'. I think they're ridiculous. I am not a mom who thinks that every kid who played on the team should get a trophy, or that every car in the Pinewood Derby should win some sort of ribbon.
I think my kids, and your kids should lose sometimes. I think they should come in last (or maybe worse, second) and not cry about it.
I think schools should give number and letter grades instead of stupid point systems, and I think if you don't study you should get an "F" and not a second chance.
I think if I ask you to make your bed and you only pull the bedspread over the messed up sheets instead of doing it right the way I taught you, then you should have all the blankets pulled off the bed and you should do it over again.
I think that your Sunday-best does not include the flip-flops you just wore to the beach on Saturday, and that you boys can expend the energy to pull up your pants.
I think if you're asked to sweep the floor (and you're old enough to sweep the floor and have been taught how) then there should be no crumbs left on the floor. Not even in the corners.
I think if you're supposed to fold your laundry and put it away, then you should fold your laundry and not just shove it in the drawers. Or don't be mad when I come in and empty all your drawers and make you start over again.
I don't think little effort should be rewarded. And I don't think I'm mean. But don't we have enough (excuse me, but it's the only word that I know that fits the way I want it to) half-assed people in this world doing half-assed jobs? And can't the mothers and fathers rise up and demand more from their lazy, self-indulged, entitled children? Have some pride!
So, when you come for piano lessons and I told you that if you practiced a song at least ten times then you would get a treat, you're not getting a treat if you only practiced six times. And if you do practice ten times, then your little sister (who didn't) doesn't get a treat just because you did.
And if you lose at something, then you should be happy for the winner and determined to try harder the next time if you want it badly enough, because that's how the world works. It does not cater to your feelings. And if I did, I would be doing you a grave inservice.
And you should learn that a job well done is its own reward, and that self-esteem comes from hard work and the confidence that you can do something correctly and whole-heartedly and well.
So, today, I am mad at mediocrity. We're the most powerful nation in the world and we're slipping into mediocrity. Doesn't it start at home like everything else? Can't we raise kids who are not big babies who think that every time they bat their eyelashes they deserve a treat or that just because they're alive they deserve special privileges? Isn't that unfair to them?
Please tell me you're okay with your child losing, and that you're not okay with "just enough to get by" all the time. Please tell me you're mad at mediocrity too. Please?