Name in Lights

Have you ever wished for fame?

As a child, I certainly had my moments. I’m not sure how I thought I would achieve my fame, but really liked the idea of being loved by many and being on a cover of a magazine that would be seen by everyone in the grocery store (ah, how the young mind thinks). I was in awe of people who became famous, and curious — wondering how they did it?  There was no obvious answer to me.

My oldest son wants to be famous, well, that’s not exactly true. He wants to be a professional football player (some days professional soccer player) and therefore has fame in his sights. He doesn’t understand the pitfalls of fame: loss of privacy, experiencing trust issues (and realizing not everyone has what’s best for you in mind) and a loss of freedom that most of us take for granted on any given day. He just sees the upside — playing in a big arena, with adoring fans and being on TV (a step up from being on the magazine cover I hoped to be on one day?).

The Academy Awards will be full of famous people. Many hoping their hard work will yield them recognition as being the best at their craft. I am in awe of them, much like I was when I was young. How did fame happen for them?  Hard work, sure. But many of us work hard and don’t become famous.Once someone becomes famous you can trace the path they took to get there, but no two paths are (exactly) the same. You just don’t know when fame will meet you, or if it ever will.

My son has a dream of seeing his name in lights. I get it. I felt the same way when I was his age. I don’t know if he’ll achieve fame or not, but he will set his own path. And while I don’t know how his life will unfold and if fame and he will ever cross paths, I’m excited to see where it takes him.

Is your child interested in fame?  Are they interested in seeing their name in lights?

 

 

Please, Oscar, #AskHerMore

What is your favorite part of watching the Oscars? The red carpet? The emcee’s monologue? The winner’s speeches? Or something else?

I have always been drawn to the ‘fashion’ side of the Oscars and seeing who won more than anything else. I never really appreciated how much the fashion part of the telecast limited what women had to offer until several actresses bravely shined a light on it and started the campaign–ask her more (#AskHerMore). Up until the campaign, the questions were always around whose dress, shoes, and jewelry the woman was wearing, and in rare moments, who did her hair. In retrospect, it’s so superficial. I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before. The ask her more movement is pushing for the media to inquire about the woman herself, her performance, what motivated her, her feelings and what’s important to her about her craft. That’s a very different conversation.

In a world, where outside beauty seems to trump inward beauty in the media, if we don’t rally against it, it will continue to be the case. Before having children, I confided in a friend that I was scared to have a girl, because I didn’t want them to have to deal with all the stuff that comes with it–self-image, self-confidence, worrying constantly about how you look, constantly feeling judged and never being good enough, and all the negative fall out that can result from that. I know this happens for boys as well, but think it has been more subtle for males and front-and-center for women still. Of course, if I had had a girl, I would have been thrilled. It would have forced me to think about how I would help her combat all the negativity so many women have to work through. I do have a niece who is strong and confident. She blows me away with her knowledge and attitude.  She shared with me recently that she liked a particular book because it had a strong female character in the lead role. I was so proud.

For those of you with daughters, sisters, aunts, female cousins, and mothers, what do you wish people knew about them? What questions do you wish they would ask to learn more about her–not what she wears, or how she looks, but what makes her uniquely her?

 

Oscar

What’s in a name? A name is used to identify people, with distinctive traits that differentiate us from one another. Some names are more common than others, some more unique. Each name has an origin and meaning; it sometimes matches the person or object (car, trophy, stuffed animal, etc.), sometimes it doesn’t.

The Academy Awards got me thinking about those named Oscar.  Some more famous Oscars include:

  • Oscar Wilde – writer and poet
  • Oscar de la Renta – designer
  • Oscar de la Hoya – boxer

And those that use the name fictitiously or more playfully include:

  • Oscar the Grouch: a muppet who lives in a trash can, what’s not to love?
  • Oscar Mayer: bologna, hotdogs, what kid could want more?
  • Oscar: the character from the TV show The Office

And while they are all very different, they have the name, Oscar, in common.

My children have virtually no interest in watching the Academy Awards, but they are very interested in talking about different Oscars. It’s fun to think of such a wide range of accomplished individuals and interesting characters that have your same name. It got my kids and I thinking about our own names and others that share them. We were able to think of at least one notable person that shared each of our respective names. We found the knowledge of knowing someone famous shared our name made each of us happy. Maybe not winning-a-golden-statue-named-Oscar happy, but happy none-the-less.

What’s in a name? Happiness for now.

 

The Envelope Please…

There is something seductive about the Oscar ceremony. You watch an award show for people clearly gifted in their talent, looking their finest, with great attention to detail, including the envelopes that hold the names of the winners. The seduction part is how easy it is to believe that personal success and accomplishment comes only from winning an award. That your ability to be successful is determined by others (those deciding who win the awards) and not you.

As an adult this isn’t lost on me. I bought into the notion that success was measured by others early in my career and continued to believe it until I had children of my own. Who doesn’t want to win an award for their work? Who doesn’t want to be recognized or acknowledged for their skills?

As a parent I don’t want my children to buy into this idea that success is determined by anyone but them. A statue, trophy or plaque is lovely to receive and feels good, but it doesn’t define who you are as a person. It doesn’t define if your work or life is a success.

My boys are at the age where they are exposed to competition at school and in the play yard. My oldest loves keeping score. When he loses he gets upset. He gets angry with frustration when he tries his hardest and the end score doesn’t reflect his efforts. “I did so good,” he says with a mixture of surprise, and disappointment, “how come my score isn’t better?” His face scrunches up and he balls up his fists. He makes a errrr sound in frustration. My husband and I talk to our so about the progress that he made when he played and while he may not have won, how he is getting more skilled and improving every time he tries. “Everything you want to be good at takes practice,” we tell him, “and lots of it.” You can see his mind working. It’s a good opportunity for us to teach him about what success really is.

“Do you have to win to be successful?” I ask my son. He looks up at me with questioning eyes, like he wants to say yes, but realizes I wouldn’t ask this question if it were the answer. I continue, “success is when you learn something about yourself and grow. You might receive a statue, trophy or medal along the way, but those items don’t determine who you are. You do.” He seems to understand what I’m saying, but you can still see he’d prefer to just win trophies, or get the highest score. Just like I did as a kid.

What is success for you? What is success for your child? How do you help them determine the value they bring?

And the Winner is…

My oldest son recently entered a drawing contest that was being held at my husband’s office. He drew a picture depicting what he thought my husband and his co-workers did each day. Last week we found out our son had been awarded the 1st place prize for his submission.  When my husband told our son the good news, our son showed a mixture of surprise and disbelief (I won?), and then the biggest smile came across his face. Cheers and hugs followed. We were very proud and excited he was acknowledged for his work.

Seeing my son’s reaction to winning the contest reminded me of the Oscars, and watching the winner take the stage to accept their statue exhibiting surprise and glee. The Oscars will be held later today and many of us will be eagerly watching to see who wins one of these prestigious awards. It’s easy to get taken in by the Oscars, the clothes, the jewelry, the glitter and celebrity. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

I think about the commitment, sacrifice and choices each actor has made to be nominated. Prior to having children, I would have told you I could dedicate myself and make any sacrifices needed for my career. After having children I could not say the same. I think regardless of the sacrifice and dedication we have for a job, be it a professional job, being a parent, volunteering, etc., we ultimately desire recognition for our work. We crave being told we’re doing a good job. It makes us feel good, it reinforces all the hard work we’ve done, and also helps inspire us to go on (Keep up the good work!).

While I wish I had the talent for acting that the nominees have, I realize that I don’t, and my chances of going to the Oscars are very low. I do, however, see parallels between the actors and me. We both have worked hard, and both hope to be recognized for our work.

In lieu of an Oscar, I’ll take a hug or an “I love you” from my kids as a job well done. As a parent, it’s all the recognition I need.

What makes you feel like you’ve won?