Look At Me ... if I stand on my head and don't tell anybody that I stood on my head - did I actually stand on my head?

When I was growing up we had self-esteem classes in school where we filled our notebooks with everything anyone would ever need to know about us -

they were like little prehistoric facebooks.

These classes were designed to increase our confidence and self-esteem and basically imprint us with the message that we were OK.

Today, it isn't enough for kids to hear that they are OK- they need to be "special".

(and maybe we are all feeling like this actually)

And parents are encouraged to increase our kids 'self-esteem' by affirming their 'specialness'.

My adorable little niece serenaded me recently with a song she learned in nursery school -

"I am special. I am special. Look at me. Look at me."

(sort of to the tune of the farmer in the dell if you are old enough to remember that one)

I told her that I knew a better song and sang her something like -

"I am nice. I am nice. I promise to stop kicking Aunt Cathy in the face as she tries to put on my shoes because I am nice."

She told me I was mean.

(which I am, so maybe she is special)

Her brother, who is a few years older was insisting I wanted to watch him play video games

(having been advised by him that my own video gaming skills were not quite up to the par of actually being able to play with him)

I tried to drag him away from his controller and do something with me.

He wasn't going for it.

I tried a new tactic.

"I like to make jewelry" - he glanced up at me wondering where this was going.

"Would you like to watch me make jewelry?"

"Oh, I thought you were going to make me something", he said

"No, I like to make jewelry - would you like to watch me make jewelry?", I repeated.

"Why would I want to watch you do that?"

"Well, why would I want to watch you play video games?"

He told me I was weird.

(which I am, so maybe he is especially astute also)

Of course, I remember when we were kids and my sister and I would drag my mother into our bedroom to watch us do 'gymnastics' on the beds - shouting "look at me, look at me", until my mother, bored and achy with tennis-neck would find some excuse to leave

She could have said something about how amazingly special this all was, but more likely she said something like -

"OK, enough girls, I'm tired of sitting here"

since neither of us became Olympic gymnastic champions, maybe she wasn't the best encourager of 'specialness' - on the other hand we did think we actually had to do something to warrant an audience.

Of course, playing a video game is doing something - I sure as hell can't do it very well.

(now we all just go on our Blogs or Facebook or Twitter and announce what we are doing)

Kids today have never known any other world and are certainly not to blame here, but all this 'specialness' is making me a bit uneasy about our future.

(or maybe I have just had too much coffee this morning and am way overthinking this)

* adorable Look at Me print by The Extent of Silence

I should also add that when I redid my blog the other day I went to set up a Facebook fan page and the name Olive Bites was already being used

(I was thinking what has Olive been up to now?)

and then I realized that I had set up a fan page almost a year ago and then I forgot all about it!


Rowena said...

I think about this, as a parent, as an ex teacher. I can't help but think that the truth is, they are special, all of them. You are special, I am special, that one over there is special.

Maybe we need to spend more time valuing other people's specialness than being wrapped up in our own. Maybe we need to teach our kids to pay attention to the other people out there and those other people's special place in the universe, not just the kids'. If that makes any sense.

KJ said...

Loved the post.

When we were children my sister and I, when riding in the back seat through a tunnel, would scream at my Mom to watch us come out of the tunnel. Now what was the point of that? Practice for writing a blog? Putting up a face page? Applause for a song or being acknowledged as a quick game player may just give them the courage to attempt more.

We may not be special, as in winning a gold metal at the Olympics, but we want our contributions to be acknowledged; and mostly, that is enough.

Catherine Ivins said...

Yes, Rowena I totally agree - to value their own specialness while valueing other people's specialness, too - perfect sense and I love this!

K.J.- our poor Moms! I only have one daughter so maybe she has never needed to do this as much because she already had everyone's attention- ugh - I love what you say about giving them courage to attempt more...

Isabel said...

This post brought back childhood memories(good) and made me Laugh!! Forgetfullness something Im good at:O)We are all special!!:O)

re-maker said...

Oh my gosh, did this post make me laugh!

I've found myself saying "I love you, but look at my face... do I look interested?"

I love that we're all different and have our own unique talents, but it's way more fun to discover someone's uniqueness than to have it thrust upon us.

Sherry said...

I love your post and comments today. It remind me once we told my mom we were presenting a play in 3 acts.
She said, well, I'll stay for the first, that's it.

We live in a world of thumbs up "like it" and participation trophies. Why?

I still go to twitter now and then and feel like a moron every single time.

Just call me Mark Zukerberg minus one.