Standing out & the Pooper Scooper Award

My daughter Taylor spent the week last week in heaven for a 7 year old girl who likes horses. She spent the week at a horse camp where she got to adopt a horse, and learn to ride it on her own. She has always had a passion for horses and despite not always having the money, I have vowed to make sure she can pursue her passion in some way or another. I am not trying to toot my own horn or sound like the noble parent but I want my kids to have it a little better than I had.

However, I think she had a traumatic moment at the end of this experience that may stick in her mind for a while.  When it happened, I could just about see the whole week of fun and highs deflate out of her and I really felt for her.

At the end of the week, they had a little show.  The weather was getting bad, so they did a quick one.  But Taylor was just happy to ride her adopted horse one more time. She had already gotten emotional about it being the last day.  We knew that  was coming.  She is an emotional child in general.

At the end, they had ice cream and water melon, which the kids liked.  Once that was over, they had little superlative awards to give out.  Of course they had one to give to every child – 13 of them.  There were several silly ones – best helper, most friendly, best attitude, etc.  Then Taylor’s turn came up and I was curious what they were going to give her – what did she do to stand out enough to get noticed.  Then the teen teacher said it.  “Super Dooper Pooper Scooper Award” and I could see the tears well up in my daughter’s eyes.

She toughed it out and did not make a scene but I could tell it upset her.  It did not help that my wife had just talked to Taylor about cleaning up the horse droppings.  Taylor said she did not do much of that – she let the (teenage) teachers do it.  I think she was too squeamish about it, just like her daddy would be.  I could see my daughter look at mommy and mouth “But I did not do that…”

After the silly awards, the group was dismissed with goodbyes to the horses, and more silliness and tears.  Taylor was still upset and I was hungry, so we were ready to go.  We had our infant with us and she was starting to wake up to, ready to eat.  We got in the car, and I tried to explain to Taylor what the award really was but I do not think she understood.  She just wants to white out the words that are on the tag and keep the ribbon.

What I did tell her was that she should just forget about the ribbon and think about the 5 days she spent riding and learning about horses.  She cannot let one little moment ruin a whole week.  But if she is anything like me, that moment will always be remembered and taint that memory.

After thinking about it and how similar times affected me, I really want to tell her more.  I am going to try to today but I am writing this to get my thoughts in order for it.

If you think about it, the whole thing is really just silly and these teens that were teaching the camp were not really thinking long term.  They are not thinking that this moment may permanently scar a 7 year old girl.  They have 13 awards to make and probably had to just make something up for some.  I have had to do superlatives before and they can be tough especially if certain people don’t stand out.

And that’s just it.  Taylor probably did not stand out, just like I have not in so many things in my life.  Now in my head, this is turning into a “don’t do what I did” moment.

There is nothing wrong with being the quiet one of the group.  She was probably just that.  It means she was listening and not making a lot of noise.  That’s good.  But there is a drawback to being the quiet one.  Take it from an expert.  She can go through life just fine being the quiet one, but that will lead to many more pooper scooper award moments.  Trust me, I have a closet full.

Now I am not sure she is going to get the metaphor but maybe she will.  I am going to try.  She has to do something extra every time she has the opportunity.  Be brave and strong and do something that will get her noticed.  The more she does, the more she will get rewards for it.  The more rewards, the more she will do..  She can work hard to make sure someone else gets the pooper scooper award.

Sure I want her to strive to get “first prize” every time but I am not that type of parent.  Second place to me is not first loser.  Maybe this will lead to more ambition but for right now, this is more a social thing.  With superlatives, there are not first place and second place awards.  There is just – did you stand out and make a name for yourself or did you stand in the background and do the minimum.  I want her to see that somehow.

I am not sure it will make a difference now. She may be too timid in general for it to make a difference.  But maybe it will.  This could be one of those moments she remembers forever.  One of those moments I wish I had that made me different – more motivated with more ambition.  I will love her not matter what direction it takes her but I just want to make sure she sees that she can do something about it in the future.  She can stand out and make sure someone else gets the pooper scooper awards.  Because there always will be the pooper scooper award.

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