Saturday, August 8, 2009

Toddlers and Tiaras ...or How to Make Yourself Throw Up in Your Mouth

Ever since I got Dish Satellite TV I have discovered...there are a LOT of weird TV shows out there. What a sheltered life I have led watching network TV...(no really I had no idea who John and Kate were until very recently)

The weirdest TV shows are about so-called "real" people...who are really strange. I find myself in a hypnotic trance surfing from people who work in a tattoo parlor, to a cake shop, to a bridal dress shop, to a pawn shop. Quite amazing!

But watching Toddlers and Tiaras is like watching a train wreck. I know I shouldn't support this evil like I know I shouldn't go into Walmart (even though they have the cheapest price for my cats' favorite food..) but I can't help myself.

So this show follows little children in beauty pageants. Little little children! Little girls in curlers and false eyelashes who crawl around on the floor saying "I'm a chipmunk" - which would be cute IF THEY WERE PLAYING IN THEIR OWN HOME not about to be paraded like the sex objects their parents can't even wait for them to grow up to be.

WHO DOES THIS TO THEIR CHILDREN??? From what I can tell, I'll just say it and be politically incorrect....fat women and men who seem very gay to me do this to their children. Or like the father last night who knew and said out loud that it was wrong to pit their 6-year-old twin daughters against each other but apparently doesn't have the balls to put his foot down with his wife who smiles at the camera and without any shame explains how one of the twins "looks just like her mama" and is very pretty and wins more than her sister. Although I do give him credit for refusing to let the "pretty" twin finish the contest when she was having a melt-down and throwing a temper tantrum. Which left the ugly duckling daughter to win ..and Mom didn't even have to good grace to hide her shock that the daughter who doesn't look like her would win something!

What gave me pause is that the pretty dresses, makeup, hair...well this goes on in my beloved sport - Figure Skating. Little little girls are dressed up and put on the ice who often have to be carried out to their spot. I will say that MY daughter did not begin to compete until she was 11. And she didn't wear the really glitzy dresses - they were more sporty. We couldn't afford the fancier dresses. And at least you are judged by a skill, not how you look. I've even heard skating judges say they don't approve of the real fancy dresses for little girls because "what will they have to look forward to when they are older?"

I say there's no right age for a beauty pageant. If I were Queen of the world I would ban them all for everyone. But what is the right age for children to begin competing? Is there something wrong with a 4-year-old working on a skill like figure skating or tennis or gymnastics instead of playing? What exactly "is" a normal childhood? Playing all day and having no responsibilities or goals?

In skating, I've seen very talented children who would cry when you told them it was time to get off the ice. I've also seen parents nag and yell and push their children mercilessly. It's a delicate balance for parents, how much we push and how much we let them decide what is enough. When we moved I wouldn't let my daughter quit high school band (she played the flute) because I knew that would be a good way for her to make friends. She was not happy. But guess where most of her new friends were from? But another time I pushed her to take a skating test she was ready to give up on and it did not go well.
We do the best we can and as long as we are clear that we are doing this for our children, not ourselves...they will survive our mistakes. But NO BEAUTY PAGEANTS PLEASE!


  1. BUT, and it's a big but, your daughter went on skating, despite the disastrous test. I don't know - my daughter would, I think, have liked to have been pushed into being good at swimming, which she could have been, but I wasn't that sort of mother. My brother's ex-wife, however, is, with the result that her daughter was a realistic prospect for the Olympic games in dressage (the only sport I've ever found that's even more expensive than skating!), at least until the horse she was bringing on had to be put down. Her present horses are good, but haven't, I don't think, qualified.

    But the point is, how on earth do we, as parents, know when to stop? I've seen children on the ice who obviously hate it; one little girl's family has recently moved to be near the National Ice Centre so she can train there - but she's never going to be a top-rank skater, the parents are just setting her up for failure. When these kids hit adolescence, it's so all going to hit the fan....

  2. Well she went on to pass the test but I think she would have if I'd left it to her do it on her own time and way. I just don't think I would have moved, I KNOW I wouldn't have let my kid live away from me...

    Where we used to skate almost all the girls quit skating when they were in high school. They were all so talented...most of them usually beat my daughter in competition. And yet she's still skating. And making VERY good money coaching...

  3. I think that parents can expose their children to a variety of activities, based on what is available locally, unless the child has some especially strong interest on their own. Then the parent may want to go out of the way to help the child try that. I believe that a parent should expose their children to music lessons, as least to get the basics.

    But pushing, that is a whole 'nother can of worms. There is pushing to get over a difficult hump, beyond which the skill will go more smoothly. Pushing to be something that a child is not will just make a child feel never good enough.

    In any case, you can only push so far if the kid has any gumption at all. For example, my kids are all naturally musical and we gave them piano lessons and they had music in school. The oldest one became a music major, yet she probably had less innate talent, but was the hardest worker on her music. The last one is probably musically gifted, but it all came too easy, and she never worked hard and never cared. We couldn't change that and gave up trying when she was about in 10th grade. It is her loss, I guess.