You’re special! And so are you, and you, and you…

Worthwhile, or BS?

My daughter had to clean out her room – I mean, get everything out – before we painted it last summer. It was a huge job – she’s had that same bedroom, and the same furniture, same stuff on the walls, for years, so decluttering was long overdue.
On top of one box, was a blue ribbon she got one year at Field Day. This was one of the boxes that was headed for the garbage.

How could she just throw out a blue ribbon? Is she that un-sentimental?

I remember the day she brought it home. She was in third or fourth grade, and stuck it on the mini-bulletin board on back of her door. “You got a blue ribbon?” I was a bit surprised. You see, when I was in school, Field Day was fun for a lot of kids. A day out of the classroom, where we got to run and play and do sports. To me, it was sitting outside in the hot sun (it was always close to the last day of school) being bored out of my mind – on top of being an all-day reminder that I suck at anything athletic. You know, the slowest time in the 100-yard dash, last one picked for any team, guaranteed to strike out in softball and get hit with the dodge ball every time. My husband, on the other hand, is very athletic. But in that area, our daughter is more like me.

So her getting a ribbon in field day surprised me, until I took a closer look: “Participation,” it read.

"When everybody's special, no one is!"

“Everyone who didn’t win something got one of those.” She shrugged. “It’s stupid. One of those things they think is good for our self esteem.” She said “self esteem” in an air-quotes enunciation. LOL! Even at age nine, my daughter had already developed a healthy BS-detector.

Because that’s pretty much what it is. When I was a kid, only the winners got ribbons. If I’d gotten one, I’d have known it for what it was, too. Kids aren’t dumb. Most of them know this stuff is supposed to make them feel good, but it usually ends up just being patronizing. I don’t think not winning any Field Day ribbons gave me any major self-image issues. On one hand, it’s important to recognize the ones who do have special talents, especially when that may be all they have. My husband struggled in school, but he excelled at sports. If he’d gotten a ribbon for “participating” in a spelling bee (which he’d have probably been the first one eliminated), he’d have called BS, too.

What do you think? Does everyone deserve to be “special” or is this just needless pandering that everyone knows is BS?