The Green Ribbon

Kate and I were watching a T.V. show on the Xbox one evening when a notification popped up: “Achievement Unlocked! Watched 10 shows after 9 PM.”

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Did we just get an achievement for vegging out after our daughter goes to bed?  I am totally on board with getting a badge for racing a video game car in record time or mastering a drum solo for Rock Band.  I certainly don’t expect the Xbox to say, “Kudos, we haven’t seen you in a week– you must have been on a nice vacation, or just enjoying the great outdoors!”  But an award for watching T.V.?

This leads me to the Participation Ribbon debate.  Does our society reward too easily and perhaps for the wrong things?  Should we dole out those green “thanks for coming” ribbons as often as we do?

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Don’t get me wrong, as a recipient– commemorative marathon medals are about all I can hope for at my running speed (term used loosely)– I have to say a ribbon can be nice to have.  Plus I hear they’re fun to wear all day long.

But should I get an “All-Star” ranking for a LinkedIn profile that barely says anything about me?  Seriously… our firm’s compliance department disables all but six fields on the site, and yet LinkedIn congratulates me as though I did something really awesome.  It’s not flattering.  It’s weird.

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At this point in our childrearing endeavors, encouragement and incentives go a long way, whether we’re trying to get Lucie to follow us up the stairs at night, put her toys away, or just calm the heck down from a temper tantrum.  In the words of The LEGO Movie, “everything is awesome.”  At least that is the message we seem to be sending to Lucie.  So far celebrations are limited to clapping and cheering, but what happens when the stakes get higher?  Is she going to hold her hand out in anticipation after showing us a good report card?  Will we go broke buying stickers and trinkets for potty training and get fat from reward milkshakes after piano lessons?  Is Lucie going to require the same kinds of incentives from jobs and volunteer positions and spouses and everyone else?  And if she doesn’t get what she wants, will she live at home with us until someone agrees to pay her six figures for an entry level job because that earworm of a song is till stuck in her head, except “everything” is replaced with “I” and “awesome” is replaced with “entitled”?  Wow, that turned dark rather quickly.


Okay, let’s take a step back.  I’m all about encouraging people to keep trying, keep going, and keep up the good fight.  As a former benchie (aka pine-rider aka 3rd stringer), I really do understand and appreciate the values of participation and inclusion.  I sure do hope Lucie gets her fair shake in life, but I think it’s really important to emphasize that it is fair.  A few lucky breaks, yes.  A few times getting the short end of the stick, too, even.  I guess what I’m hoping is that she does things because she loves them, or she works hard because it’s the right thing to do.

But for now, yeah, everything is pretty awesome.




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