Ask me a year ago what I thought of participation trophies and I would have rolled my eyes. I would have scoffed and tutted and told you how ridiculous they were.
I would have used words like “entitled” and “marshmallow generation” and told you how in life there were “winners and losers”. How kids needed to learn. How it was “destroying our youth’.
Blah Blah Blah.
I even wrote about it, how surprised I was when my eldest son started school and kept coming home with ribbons.
Ribbons just for turning up.
He didn’t actually earn them and didn’t really appreciate them when he got them. He cruised through kindergarten, doing well, making friends, and coming home with all sorts of bits of paper and ribbons rewarding him for his easy ability to sail through.
I thought this everyone gets a ribbon culture was going to be the ruin of us.
And then, two years later my second son started school.
At first I assumed he would feel the same as his older brother (and me) about the school system of awarding certificates. I assumed he would see it as meaningless. I assumed he wouldn’t really care when he saw that eventually everyone got one.
I assumed wrong.
My second child isn’t quite the same as his older brother, not as confident, not as sure of himself, a little more anxious, a little more self conscious.
He struggled a little with his literacy, he struggled a little making friends. For him to start school was trickier, not quite the easy ride it was for his older brother.
Then he noticed these glossy blue certificates the others kids started taking home. Their names read out in a weekly assembly and their contribution acknowledged. He wondered why he hadn't one too.