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-The Five Spot

Friday, July 24, 2009

Somebody's Gotta Win, Somebody's Gotta Lose

So I must confess that growing up in the Rum Punch household was hard stuff. No, we weren’t sent to bed without dinner or told to get switches off the tree – but every adult family member followed and stuck to the following code: Don’t let a child win at anything. Ever.

Not Candyland. Not Monopoly. Not gin rummy (our family’s official card game). My own mama even knocked me off a base during a family softball game. Yeah. You had to earn your win. Practice. Fail. Get yo’ ass beat over and over again. Throw a fit. Have mama/daddy/auntie look at you like you was crazy. Try again. Only to get beat again. Until one glorious day when you finally, finally, finally beat the master. This is how things went down in my family. And I didn’t truly appreciate it until…

I was watching HBO’s Brave New Voices - where teens from around the country performed in a slam poetry competition in D.C. So the teens recited their poems and were judged by you know real, professional poets, like Sonia Sanchez and such. So the MC would say the judges scores: 10, 8, 9.5. And do y’all know that if the people got anything lower than a 10, these lil’ kids in the audience would start to boo? And boo. And boo. Until they pretty much had to start giving 10s for stuff that was kinda crappy. Oh Rum Punch don’t call these kids’ work crappy. Oh but I will.

As a writer, I have been in many a critique group. And for those of you who don’t know, this is what happens in a critique group: people read your work ahead of time and then come armed to smack it and you down. Some praise your work. Some shyt all over it. Some provide constructive criticism. Most identify areas where you need improvement. No one tells you it is perfect. Ever. Cause it’s not.

And during the critique, you are not aloud to say a word. You can’t explain what you were trying to say in that paragraph. You can’t question someone's thought process/attempt to find deeper meaning in why you chose a character's name and let them know their reasoning is completely wrong and you just happened to like that name. You can’t scream, “bytch is you crazy? How dare you talk about my work like that! Do you know what it took to write these 35 pages? Wait til it’s your turn! You gon’ get yours!” All you can do is smile and nod. Hear what they say, go home, edit, correct and improve. Cause your shyt ain’t perfect. It never will be. But you can make it better.

And so I am baffled at these new fangled parents instilling this everyone’s a winner all the time mentality. Giving out trophies to all. Protecting the youngins at all costs. Uh can I tell y’all I ride past a house on my way to work and there is a net around a trampoline?!? Um say what? Isn’t part of the fun learning how to keep yo’ ass on the trampoline and not hit the ground?

It’s going to be a hard knock life when these lil’ chillun finally fall and find no safety net. Just a cold, hard ground. When they don’t get that perfect SAT score. Or get into that college. Or get that great first job. Or when their boss chews them out for the first time. Or a co-worker tells them they suck – just because it’s Wednesday. Or they are one of those embarrassing contestants you see on American Idol cause they didn't have a Big Mama to pull 'em to the side and say, "bay-by, you can't sing. At all. Now, go learn you a trade or somethin'." No matter the case it will be a sobering day when they learn that everyone can’t and doesn’t win everything, every time. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose lots. Until you finally win. And get to enjoy the sweetest, tastiest, most delicious victory that makes playing the game totally worth it.

That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!


Courvoisier said...

Yo... did you see the episode of Real Sports where they did a segment on getting rid dodge ball and other competitive physical educational sports because the everyone is a winner mentality. CRAZINESS!

Rum Punch said...

No chile I did not see that one. And I love me some Real Sports. That is just a shame. Dodge ball is Darwin's theory at work: survival of the fittest!

Amaretto said...

Somebody's got to play the fool! And aren't these parents doing, doing it, and doing it well? Don't be mad that little Johnny thinks everything should cater to him and he's 45 living in your house.

Are they seriously thinking about taking away dodge ball?! It's a sad sad day folks!

Rum Punch said...

Uh yeah girl! This takes me back to when I was helping in the nursery and the kids were decorating plastic Easter eggs and the lil boy said, "Paste these stickers on for me and I'll be back." Like this 4 year old was paying me a salary. Like he was gonna come back and inspect my work! And I told him, "I will not. It's your egg, you do it." Well he scurried off to play. And came back and found it unfinished - his world was rocked. "Hey, you didn't do it for me." That's right, youngin'. But what does this say? That he's used to everyone doing what he wants when he wants. Negative son.

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Being Black did seem to be an automatic disqualification, but then why did someone need to write an entire book arguing what should have been patently obvious? Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell came to my mind and I remembered that he could have run for president in 1992 as a war hero. But Colin Powell was Ronald Reagan’s protégé and got a special pass on the race question. Black conservatives like Justice Thomas, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell were careful to disassociate themselves from liberal thinkers and activists like Jesse Jackson, who lost, as expected, the 1984 and 1988 Democratic primaries. Ultimately, Colin Powell, in spite of all his honors, declined to run for president. His wife Alma feared for his safety. Common sense said that a candidate like Obama, for numerous insurmountable reasons, didn't stand a chance of winning the Democratic primary, let alone a general election in which 10% of the electorate is African American and Republicans controlled the White House for 20 of the preceding 28 years. But I decided that Obama's chances merited a closer examination. In it, I would bring to bear my gambling skills.

Localicious said...

first i'm mad @ dude posting his WHOLE ESSAY! in the comment section. but i digress...
girl i totally agree with u! i HATE that parents are teachin thier kids that they shld always win and never be criticized. several years ago i read an article sayin that a whole generation is being jacked up b/c parents have put so much effort into building self esteem and not enough into building self control & efficacy. i for one don't let kids win either. i beat my grandma ONE TIME in scrabble when i was younger. that one glorious day still stands out b/c i KNOW i earned it :-) but the trampoline thing? well...i think the net is a good idea. i mean fallin off & bustin ur butt on the ground is one thing. BUT falling off & breakin ur back and/or neck on the metal pole, well...that's not cool!

Rum Punch said...

@ Localicious - Oh mercy, I just saw that! Not the whole essay. Oooo I know it felt good to beat your granny! My mom still kills me in Scrabble. Ok, clearly I don't have kids cause the falling and hitting the metal pole did not cross my mind. Ok. That makes sense. Now I'm thankful that we made it out alive on family's trampoline...