Easter Egg Hunt…Metaphor for Life?

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Easter brings with it a sense of renewal and freshness; warm weather and the resolve to get outside and tackle a yard that has been neglected since last fall. Unless, of course, it snows. Then we prefer to bundle up together and stare at the television. We are forced to brave the elements, however, for the annual Easter egg hunt. Children and parents gather in droves at the City Park. Easter dresses and bonnets abandoned in favor of winter coats and knit hats. The steamy breath of each child escapes, eager with anticipation.

As we stand at the ribbon that marks the perimeter of the ages 4 through 6 section, I whisper words of instruction into the ear of my youngest. “As soon as it starts,” I say, “run and pick up all the candy and eggs you can.” It’s not that I’m a big fan of letting my children eat a lot of sugar and junk, it’s about the competition. In a world where coaches and teachers preach that “everyone wins”, the Easter egg hunt is an excellent example of “you snooze, you lose”. As in life, there are no judges to ensure that every child gets the same number of eggs, or an equal amount of candy.

My daughter mostly ignored my briefing in favor of chatting with a boy from Preschool. I admonished her to “get her game face on “ and “stay focused”…I think she may have rolled her eyes. At these moments she has a striking resemblance to her mother. I am not a crazy, obsessed parent…yes I am, but only because I want my children to be successful in life. I believe that anything worth doing deserves your best effort. In the Easter egg hunt of life, I want my children to strive to fill their baskets without pushing anyone down or taking their candy. I also want them to be aware of those who need a hand; anyone who is slower or less agile.

I overheard a little boy next to us ask his father where the finish line was. What a great idea! Fill your Easter basket while competing for a ribbon or medal. That 4 or 5 year old boy could teach us all a lesson. Always know where you want to end up, or at least the direction you want to go in. You might be the fastest runner in the world, but if you aren’t running where the eggs are you will still have an empty basket. Have a purpose instead of drifting along aimlessly, hoping to collide with success. Set your sights on one egg. When you have reached it, be looking for the next one and go for it. Don’t be deterred if someone grabs it before you; simply find a new goal and move on. If you aren’t continually moving forward, then you will be left behind.

At the Easter egg hunt, every child is equal. Neither race, religion, or social position will help you gain the upper hand. In the end, success depends entirely upon the individual effort that was put forth. Be responsible for your own actions and stop looking for someone to blame. We are the product of our determination, period. Make the decision to overcome any perceived, or real, handicap. No one else is responsible for your situation or happiness.

Holy crap! What started out as a light discussion about the annual Easter egg hunt has drastically swerved off-course into a full blown philosophical rant. This is something that has been on my mind for quite awhile. I am concerned that our children are being taught that everyone is the same, and that everyone has identical chances and opportunities. This is happening at a very young age when they are most influenced and impressionable. As, parents we need to participate in the education of our kids.

Last year, at an elementary school field day, I learned one of the reasons our children don’t seem to have a competitive spirit. The person in charge of the proceedings spent several agonizing minutes pontificating on the fact that everyone was a winner. The only thing that mattered was that you participated. Really? So everyone who applied for your job got it? If it’s not true in the real world, why would it be true in elementary school? In an effort to protect feelings, we are setting our kids up with the expectation that they will never fail.

This person, bless her for working with our children, shouted into a microphone that “everyday is win-win; you win, I win, EVERYBODY wins!”.She even made all the attending children repeat it. Those are the keys to retaining any information: hear it, say it, do it. They are trying to ingrain a belief that is contrary to everything our kids will experience for the rest of their lives. It even contradicts their own programs like Student of the Month. Only one student in a grade can win it. That means everyone else lost in my book.

They are taking away all accountability. Our children shrug their shoulders and slide by with minimal effort because it isn’t required when “everyone wins”. They really expect to excel without working at it. This is true for sports, academics, relationships and extracurricular activities. They just stare blankly when you tell them to give it everything they’ve got. It’s contrary to everything they’re taught at a young age.

In Junior High and High School these children will struggle, or washout, of competitive sports. Only kids with exceptional family lives or involvement outside of our school system will have the drive and desire to compete. Coaches will cut the uncoachables first, no matter how much physical talent they may have. Attitude IS everything.

As parents, we have been too trusting and uninvolved in our children’s education. We need to take an active role instilling values that will aid in the future success and happiness of our kids. Find out what your kids are being taught. I dare you to teach them to be winners; Winners in school, sports, and in life.

So, how did my daughter do at the Easter egg hunt? When the hunt was started, she dashed out and claimed a plastic egg she had spotted. She turned to me and held it up in triumph. She then looked around bewildered as the other kids scrambled over the area. I vaulted the perimeter tape and rushed to her side. “Keep going!” I yelled. “Pick up all of the candy and eggs you can find!” She got the idea and joined the other children. I suddenly felt very self-conscious standing amid the mini hunters, but looking around I noticed adults next to many of the children. They were giving encouragement and pointing out goodies. Maybe the Easter egg hunt IS a metaphor for life. Idaho doesn’t suck…and neither does a little healthy competition.

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