In a few hours I’ll be heading off to a Junior Lego League event with my son. And even though the email assured me this event is NOT a competition, it also mentioned that there WILL be prizes. Because, as any modern parent knows, our kids are all winners, all the time.
I’m not trying to diss Lego League specifically. It’s really no different from any of the other things my seven-year-old son does, like soccer or baseball, where we grown-ups mandate that “we don’t keep score” even as the children themselves tally up the points in their heads with a Rain Man-like precision.
Then, at the end of the season—which hasn’t been a competition, kids, it’s just about having fun—we hand out trophies. But who doesn’t deserve a shiny reward after a long season of “having fun”?
The weird thing is, I don’t know a single parent who actually believes in this. Not one. We read the New York Times. We’ve heard about the phenomenon of “tea-cup” children—kids whose parents overly rewarded them, protecting them from any unpleasantness or taste of failure, so that by the time they go to college, they shatter into pieces when the tiniest little thing goes wrong.
So why the heck do we keep on handing out trophies to five-year-olds? Why don’t we have the guts to stand up to this silly trend and stop the madness? Because if someone actually took away the golden statues at the end of a soccer season, I swear, I’d give them a prize.
ADDENDUM: So yesterday’s Lego event was lovely. And even though they handed out prizes to everyone, instead of trophies, they were cool, home-made lego statuettes (created by high school students) with very distinct awards given to the top three teams. And despite the fact that my son’s team didn’t walk away with the biggest trophy or the #1 prize, he felt proud of his work and had a wonderful time.