The cheese gets some hugs!

When I was a kid, and we played the Farmer in the Dell, the last person picked to join the inside of the circle was the cheese. Once that person was picked, every except the cheese left the inside of the circle and sang, "The cheese stands alone. The cheese stands alone. Hi-ho, the derry-o. The cheese stands alone" At Jordan's preschool, once the cheese is picked to join the circle, "We all hug the cheese." The cheese apparently no longer stands alone.

I was taken aback by this when she told me, but yet not really surprised. God forbid we hurt anyone's feelings, but I guess I am a little guilty of trying to spare kids, especially mine, pain. Because Jordan has a rather strong personality, and she has, at times, left other kids out, I usually don't mind when other kids ignore her. I can turn that into a life's lesson and say something like, "Now you know how it feels for C when you don't play with her at school." But I am not sure she really does get that because kids her age seem to be about the here and now. I don't think she doesn't play with C because she is trying to be mean; she probably just feels like playing with other girls instead. Yet every time I walk by C's dad at school and he often does not say hi to me, I wonder if C tells her parents that Jordan never plays with her, and that bothers me. Which is why I often push Jordan to play with C(and probably should not).

But back to the cheese getting hugged. This reminds me of gym class in grade school, when I was pretty much always picked last. I was not athletic, I was weak, and I was quite uncoordinated. But that did not stop me from feeling sad or embarrassed. I hope my child does not go through that; really no kid should. But if so, you just have to hope you get over it and move on. I like to think I eventually became a little athletic (I am waiting for a comment from one of you), at least as far as running went, and a few years ago, I could do 25 push ups (I can do three now; I tried just yesterday, and I was pretty happy with that considering I hadn't tried in over a year). I still am fairly devoid of grace, unfortunately. But all the times I trip at work cause others to have a laugh, and that is okay by me; I embrace it, actually.

But I do think there is a difference between being picked last for gym class or recess and not making a team or a squad, which IMO is something you should earn or be good enough for (check back with me a in few years about this). Back to grade school again: When I was in sixth grade, I tried out for cheerleading and did not make the squad. The previous year I made the pom-pom squad (which is for those who do not make the regular squad), but this particular year, there weren't enough girls left for a pom-pom squad. It was just I, the cheese standing alone. My parents were upset that I was the only one not to get picked, so they went to the school to say something about it. It was to no avail, and I got over that too. In fact, my dad brought the incident up when I was visiting him in December, and he still sounded mad (I had actually forgotten about being the only one not picked and my parents trying to fight it). I told him that I was pretty bad; if you cannot do a cartwheel or a split, you should not be a cheerleader, but he said that was not the point; a Catholic school should not have singled out one girl. And in a way, I think he is a little right. Maybe he is a lot right?

So is it okay that everyone hugs the cheese? Maybe we all should hug the little cheeses as much as we can; is it really necessary to hurt kids' feelings? But I don't think we should coddle kids and let them win at everything. Sometimes you lose. Everyone is not going to like you. And sometimes you don't make the team. But hopefully you won't be the only one not to...


Kurt said…
Hi Faith,

I sympathize and agree.

Last night I watched "Dodgeball" for the second time. The movie is dumb, but it is hilarious to anyone who had gym in the pre-PC era. How I remember the sting of those red rubber balls, with that special texture for maximizing the red mark left behind.

I am a little conflicted about the role of self-esteem in education and the socialization of our kids. It is of no value for anyone to feel bad about oneself, and as someone with chronic depression, I understand that all too well.

Life is full of disappointments, and these disappointments ought to help us discover what are strengths and weaknesses are. It is all part of the preparation to get ready for the adult-sized disappointments and challenges that will surely find us later on in life.

I mostly blame the post-modern idiocy that values all perspectives and opinions as equally valid. When Amanda was learning to spell, the school taught her to spell it any way she chose. The important part was to get her idea down on paper. The spelling would click in later. Except it never did. She is not a dumb person, but I cannot believe how bad her spelling can be. Apparently educators today don't think you need to know the rules of a game beofre you play it. Just get on the field and run around and a game of football will spontaneously emerge.

In trying to eliminate discrimination, many social institutions have attacked discernment as well. In trying to enfold many bases of truth, the effect has been to negate all of them.

We should instill our kids with the idea that humans are valuable just because they are humans, and therefore worthy of dignity and civil (polite) treatment. That covers all the self-esteem anyone needs or deserves.
Facie :-) said…

Thanks for the comments; I think your last paragraph probably hits it right on the nose.

I think your "life is full of disappointments" paragraph rings pretty true too. After trying out (and not being selected) for seven different things in college, I like to think I do handle disappointment well. But I also think just because you were not picked for something, that does not necessarily mean you are not good at that. IMO even though I will never be a professional singer or good enough for American Idol, I could still be part of a choral or singing group that is beyond my church choir. Despite my not being selected for several choral groups in college, I did not let that stop me for asking to do solos at my church, singing for one of my education classes, and being asked to sing (and actually doing it) at numerous weddings (note: do not be swayed by my singing at my 10-year work anniversary event).

It is still my dream to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at some sporting event in Pittsburgh. I believe if I practice more (other than just sing with my local choir), I have a chance of doing it.
Mel said…
Agreeing with everything said thus far. I, too, was a failed cheerleader, thus sealing my doom as a band geek... a fate for which I am now, in adulthood, thankful. Knowledge of music, rhythm, parts, working in a larger group, etc. has served me much better than that split I could never quite achieve... it hurt at the time, but it wasn't the end of the world b/c I was in 7th grade. I feel worse for the kids who don't fall short until well into high school or college. That first B is a horrible thing for the driven straight-A kid; likewise the high school section leader who can't even make it into a college level musical group. I'm glad I fell short while still young and emotionally flexible.

The fault is partly that activities are used to identify kids now, not to enhance them and build character; if the world didn't make such a huge deal about every skill or sport or extra-curricular what-have-you, then kids wouldn't be so very crushed if they weren't hugely successful at that particular activity. I am pretty much expecting to get hugely annoyed in the future by over-achieving parents who must push their kids in order to live vicariously through them. That's a horrible thing. My parents were good parents; they didn't do a lot of things right, but thankfully, since I was the third of 3 girls, they pretty much just didn't care what I did. Almost all of it was for the third time, so no biggie. They were reasonably supportive, but there was no pressure from them, and mild interest at best. It took a load off me and let me make my own choices. Plus, now I don't feel the same need to get my parents' buy-in that my two older sisters feel.

Shutting up now. Remind me of all this down the road if I become a helicopter parent, will ya?! ; )

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