Recently I received a pitch for a fledgling TV series that teaches children “how to achieve success in life and business.”
Because I know when I was 8 years old, my utmost concern was achieving business success. Also, my mother accidentally forgetting to cut the crusts off my peanut butter sandwich, which may actually have been my utmost utmost concern. But business success? A close second.
And now, we commence waiting for the hail and locusts to come down and destroy us all. Park Slope, first.
Perhaps it’s a good idea, who knows. I mean, I like the notion of more girls in their teens getting involved with FBLA and I am always excited to promote kids that happen to be making cool things and starting businesses. But when we start institutionalizing the idea through mainstream media that kids need to be business moguls before they’ve sprouted their first underarm hair, are we going to far?
For a little perspective, I’ve been the mom who was in no rush to potty train. I’ve been the parent who lets my kid make her own messy gingerbread house instead of correcting her lopsided gumdrop eaves. I’ve believed that three after school activities is more than enough, and that we’re not “training” for ballet or soccer or violin, we’re taking classes so we can do things we love.
Am I the anomaly now?
I’ll admit it, I don’t want to raise a generation of millionaire minors. I want to raise kids excited to draw comics and read joke books and plan for three weeks just how to build the right fort for their first sleepover party. I want my kids to know not to cry if they don’t get a glee club solo because that’s how life is sometimes. I want them to know that not every kid gets a trophy. I want them to be so happy with the handmade card they slaved over for Grandma, not because they can reproduce them and sell 10,000 a month thus paving the way to a worry-free future, but because it made them happy to make someone else happy.
There’s plenty of time later for worrying about creditors and supply-side economics and the mechanics of distribution.
It’s possible that my perspective comes in part from a position of some privilege. I can safely assume my children will get a decent education and find their bliss and make a living. But I don’t get the sense this is a TV series targeted towards underprivileged kids who need a way out (so to speak). I think it’s more this crazy Tiger Mom culture pushing every adolescent to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Only why wait until you’re actually in college, when you can skip lunch hour during 7th grade to conference in with your plant in China and make sure they’ve fixed the manufacturing issue.
A friend wrote to me in response to the pitch:
I had a mom at dance tell me that she wants her 8 year old to finish her next level in karate (even though the daughter wants to quit) because “it’ll look SO GOOD on her college application!” What?!?! Since when do you include a 2nd grade achievement on a college application!
Maybe I just don’t know too many people like this right now. Do you?