In the day and age of Facebook, Twitter and the rest, we have become unable to do anything without some manner of ego stroking or feedback. When and how did this happen? What happened to going about your business and getting your shit done. Why on earth do we need rewards and accolades for simply living our lives?
I start assigning blame to whoever the parents were that decreed "goody bags" were necessary at children's birthday parties. Who was the unpopular kid whose mother needed to bribe other children with bags of candy, toys and other crap to show up at her precious darling's party? I thought game playing and cake eating and general kid rowdiness was plenty of incentive to come to anyone's birthday party. Not only did this craptastic idea catch on, but it has become some kind of competitive sport with the booty in the bags rivaling that of those handed out at major awards shows. The value of a party is now based on what the attendees get. Not what they get out of it. A good time had by all is no longer a legitimate scale to measure the success of a gathering. Now it's all about the monetary value of what the guests take home.
I recently chaperoned the post prom party at my eldest's school, a learning experience to be sure. The meetings leading up to the big event revolved quite a bit around donations and prizes. Don't get me wrong, if something can be done on the cheap, I'm all over it. The donations committee was a pure force of nature and managed to get an impressive number of gifts, monies and merchandise for the event. Personally, I was on the entertainment committee and we just had to keep them from bitching about being bored...not that tough, really. I was a little put off by the determination of some to make sure prizes were given out for absolutely every activity from door prize drawings (to be expected) to the video games and Twister. Really? Prizes for MarioKart? Call me old school, but I never believed in the "you get a trophy for just being you" school of thought. It's stupid and destructive. No, you do not get a prize for showing up and doing nothing but converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. Seventh place does NOT qualify you for a spot on the podium. Fifth place does not get a ribbon. Try harder and next time, do better.
Don't get me wrong, this is not any manner of sour grapes. My kid won a freaking iPad and I (and he) couldn't be happier. What I saw during the drawing for the door prizes was alarming and disappointing, to say the very least. A girl won a $100 gift card to a local sporting and outdoor goods store and came stomping back to her seat like she had received a bag full of warm dog poo. Another kid won a package including gas cards, a sweatshirt and other merchandise and grabbed his booty without so much as a thank you. I did send him back to say it, but it should not have been necessary. We gave away two iPads, two Kindle Fires, two blu-ray players and two 32inch televisions along with a metric shit ton of other merchandise, cash and gift cards and I heard kids whining that they "got way more stuff last year". Stunned does not BEGIN to describe my reaction. Appalled, disgusted and plain old flabbergasted come close.
When did this sort of ungracious response become acceptable? How did we, as parents, allow our children to become greedy and ungrateful? When did "thank you" become such a rarity? We need to get back to the event being the reward, eat cake, play games and be silly with your friends. And don't expect a freaking prize just for showing up.