Monday, February 3, 2014

Comparison is to joy, like Pinterest is to simplicity.

Yesterday, a friend shared When Elite Parents Dominate Volunteers, Children Lose (great article, worth the read) and it struck a chord with me. 

Fortunately, I have never experienced the nauseating displeasure of being on a committee with the type of parents Dr. Monroe describes.  Granted, I've never served on a planning committee in person, (because something about dragging all my little people with me to those meetings sounds like punishment to me, and all the others in the room) but have always been happy to serve through emails and sending items in my kids' backpacks on party day.  While I've never been asked to send in a mousse cake for a Valentine's Day party, I have seen sign up sheets that included items young children cannot possibly appreciate, rich or poor.  And while I have never had another mom make such rude and obvious comments to my face, I have had plenty of passive-aggressive comments made in the form of a back-handed compliment...  "I wish I could be more like you, and just not CARE about what my kids bring in for the party/wear in public/which extracurricular activities they participate in." The thing is, I DO CARE about what I feel is most important on their journey to becoming successful, KIND and respectful adults, who the rest of the world has to live with. But you're right, I couldn't care less if they are the only ones in their class to pass out a store-bought Valentine with NO candy attached (GASP!), if they are the only kids wearing Garanimals instead of Gap, (I'm usually just happy they all are indeed wearing clothes) and I seriously doubt making the rule of only one extracurricular activity per season, and it being an activity that he selected for himself, is going to mean he won't go to college (if he even chooses to go).

Let me ask you something... How fun and exciting was it as a kid to know on Valentine's Day, we were going to pass out our own cute paper valentines, the ones WE selected at the store, the ones WE chose that showed our own personalities and interests that year, the ones WE wrote our classmates' names on, then got to "deliver" into the shoe boxes WE decorated OURSELVES, with paper doilies and heart stickers. And to go along with the excitement of our sweet and silly valentines was usually a small cup of red Kool-aide and a plain, yet delicious, (usually baked from a box mix by a classmate's mom) cupcake, or maybe something just as simple as an Oreo cookie. And if you were really lucky, Ruffles potato chips and dip were served as well.  That was it.  No catered nugget trays, no homemade cinnamon rolls, no Pinterest-inspired desserts covered in fondant icing that took 12 hours to bake, decorate and set over night, all while it took the children all of six seconds to inhale or toss in the trash can, because let's face it, fondant doesn't taste good, no matter how cute it looks.  Children (at least the ones I've had the honor of loving) don't really care about the custom designed valentines that took their mothers three hours to assemble.  I'm not bashing those of you who do it.  I'm just gently trying to tell you, those adorable Valentines you slaved over still end up in the trash a few days after Valentine's Day, right next to the Transformer and Strawberry Shortcake ones.
 
Our generation of parents has gone overboard with the elaborate themed class parties, customized goodie bags, and spreads we are serving.  I have seen sign up sheets that include as much as 8-10 food and drink items.  My children have come home with as many as 12 goodie bags from other children, filled with small toys and candy. I've done my own personal study on this subject, and made sure to always ask my children and their friends later what their favorite thing about the party was that day.  Never, not once, did any of them respond anything about the food, decorations, or gift bags that were given.  Always, they commented on the fun story the teacher read, game they got to play, or neat music played during the party.  I have even made it a point to ask them directly about how yummy those foods must have been and pointed out how cool a certain Valentine looked, and almost always gotten a shrug and a nod.  My point is... It's not the STUFF we're giving our children that matters.  It's the EXPERIENCES in which we should be more intentional and focus on making great.  

We have got to relax as parents. We are creating a whole generation of children who have much too high expectations, and not enough insight into the real world in which they will be forced to live once they move out from under our helicopter propellers.  It shouldn't be about what item you send in for the class party. Or how your children are dressed. Or even if they're already taking French horn lessons, tae kwon do, and ballet at the age of four. 

Pinterest has killed the art of simplicity. (And before all my Pinteresty people unfriend me, hear me out..) I see so many women pin things such as  photography ideas, crafts, healthy meals, desserts, even room décor, and while I think all of this can be fun and harmless, it's also another avenue in which Satan can open a door and begin to work in our hearts.  Often, we as women look at the beautifully edited portraits of what appears to be a perfect family, and we wonder why and how the others do it all... Why won't my kids be still and smile during a photo shoot... How can I make my child's baby book that crafty... Why can't I get my kids to eat raw kale... How can she afford to decorate her house like that...
I don't believe Pinterest itself is the problem.  It's what it can create with in us that is the problem.  And it's those feelings of inadequacy and the need to compete and "one up" each other that is harming the generation of children we are raising.  Instead of stressing over the perfect class party, how about volunteering to find a fun book that relates to the holiday instead, and read it to the class that day, or an easy game that would include the whole class, which would help to entertain the kids and allow the teacher a quick break as well.

We need to think more about the experience being provided and the time spent WITH the children, not just the time spent ON them.  Children are like a sponge.  They learn so much more by what they witness in their own lives, than they do by what we tell them.  Our kids need to witness our acts of love, to see us with their own innocent eyes, serving in the community, and it can start with something as simple as loving on ALL the children in the class, especially those whose parents couldn't attend the party.  More than our children need beautifully crafted sweets and custom goodie bags, they need to be loved and engaged. 

Love is simple.

12 comments:

Teresa Kindred said...

Lovely thoughts and so true!

Hyperactive Lu said...

Beautifully written. Beautiful heart, Mama. Right on. Preach it. Makes me want to hug you and cry....lol...yes. yes. Yes. ;)

Becky B. said...

I love you even more after reading this my sweet friend! Martha and I were talking about this very subject yesterday on the home from church. If you don't mind I will add one thing(or maybe two). It's the mamas that are in competition with one another not so much the children. For example, one upping with the elaborate ways the boys must his girl to the prom. Which has led to ridiculous marriage proposals. I asked Martha if she felt left out because I did not fall for the hype even "back then" and she said, no way. Mamas make do with less and if possible stay home with your children and you wont feel so guilty. AND...not everybody gets a ribbon or trophy!!!

Lil Mama said...

haha. glad i'm blessed with the ability to not care about what my kids (you fill in the blank). and glad another mom realizes that the kids don't care just as much. as the Beatles say 'All you need is love.'

Cindy said...

Preach, sister! Love it, Holly. Every single word. Love, love, love it.

Whitney said...

Beautifully written! I think it's much more important that kids are able to be creative on their own if they so choose. I loved picking out the valentines and filling them out to put in my classmates' self-decorated shoe boxes. Those were the days!

Whitney said...

Beautifully written! I think it's much more important that kids are able to be creative on their own if they so choose. I loved picking out the valentines and filling them out to put in my classmates' self-decorated shoe boxes. Those were the days!

tarheelmom said...

I started to comment yesterday, but had so much to say that I didn't even know where to start! Omigosh! This is all soooo true! I keep telling people when they're wanting plan uh-nuther class party that the kids really just want to play with each other...we don't need a carnival and gourmet cupcakes! Throw 'em some glitter glue, a piece of paper, and offer 'em a cup of juice and it's a party! I could not agree more that parents are setting the children up to expect so much for celebrations.
Even for my kids' bdays they get a cake, balloons, fun snacks, but it's family only and it's a couple of hours and done. They can only have "friend parties" every 5 years!
Amen and amen sister!

Brittany Smith said...

Wow...so so true and awakening!

Voice of Reason said...

Wow! Could you be more lazy?

tarheelmom said...

Please tell me the comment above is sarcasm!?

Anonymous said...

Holly, I somehow stumbled upon your blog... All I can say IS YOU ARE EXACTLY RIGHT and you have a great outlook on things that matter-- Heck if I was to spend hours on a one year old's treat bag---that's just ridiculous... and yes ruffles, A COMPLETE BONUS to a classroom party.