say it with flowers

Last night I attended my fifth grader’s school Christmas concert, and I noticed something I had never seen before. It seemed that every fourth parent was carrying cut flowers to give to their child. One even had a dozen roses. When did this start? And what does it mean?

I understand the need to support our kids, but for standing on risers with one hundred other kids? No one had a solo, so this wasn’t a case of honoring Emma’s special night. When I was in choir we gave flowers to our director. It never occurred to any of us that we should get some too. This gushing disease is spreading. Last spring I attended a gymnastics open house, where parents showered flowers and stuffed animals upon “Tumblebees,” preschoolers who crawled over bars while wearing leotards.

Why so much fuss over a normal performance? The principal last night opened the concert by promising that what we were about to see would “take our breath away.” Really? One hundred kids singing “Little Drummer Boy” is perfectly fine, but anyone who got goose bumps needs to get out more. Why isn’t it enough to have our children sing a standard Christmas song and then thank them for their standard performance? Did any of the children behind her really think they were going to amaze and wow their parents with “Fa-la-la-la-la”? And if that really did take our breath away, what words would be left to describe the truly amazing events of life?

Aren’t we setting our kids up for disappointment? When they hear us gush over normal, won’t they discount our words the next time we say something is extraordinary? Worse, won’t they stop believing there is anything that is truly special?

After the concert I caught a few moments of news before bed, and one of the stories said that American kids rank twenty something in math, science, and reading. Maybe so, but they also have flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.






15 responses to “say it with flowers”

  1. This is very, very well said, Mike. Thanks. (Maybe I’ll send you some congratulatory flowers. . . .)

  2. Mark Lydecker

    Auditioning for the new Scrooge movie💐🌸🌼🌹

  3. baa humbug.

    Don’t you know Mike, we are ALL winners now. Participation trophies, hello. Maybe I’ll give the OSU fans a participation trophy after the MSU game. They’ll need something to cheer them up.


  5. Jim Huber

    You do realize Brady Hoke got flowers from his team after last Saturday’s tough loss? 😜

  6. With this theory…then I think you should give all your students your book or an A or no exam. Oh wait you are on the other side of this!

    I agree with you. I don’t understand. It makes me feel like I schmuck when I don’t have something for my nieces after a dance recital or swim meet. I have sat through many a dance competitions where every team gets some level of award and their levels are weird (low gold, high gold, platinum, etc.).

    Thank you for being a voice of reason.

  7. Any by the way does this mean I should take your gift back? The one for a good semester. LOL

  8. connie kuhnle

    I agree with your view on this trend, though many might think you a spoil sport. Could it be that parents are so busy with their own lives and working that giving the kiddos special things for basically doing ordinary stuff makes the parents feel better about themselves.?   When my granddaughter “graduated” from preschool a big event was put on by the preschool. They wore caps and gowns and threw their caps in the air at the appropriate time. (must say they were cute). Gifts were being given to children and the whole event was as if they had graduated from high school. Maybe that’s all normal today but it certainly isn’t making them any smarter.   Perhaps parents are afraid of their children today. Afraid the children won’t love them.   There seems to be little common sense. My granddaughters parents throw her a big birthday party every year. It gets more expensive every year. She just turned 7. I don’t know what they’ll do when she actually hits a milestone birthday.   I’d better stop. I love my children and their spouses and really I’m not a meddling mother/mother-in-law.   Connie     

    Connie Kuhnle Fine Art Portraits and Landscapes

  9. mikewittmer

    Connie: I initially wondered if it might be divorced parents assuaging their guilt, but it looked like many two parent families and their grandparents who were doing it.

  10. […] Mike Wittmer went to a school concert where he was bemused to see parents with bunches of flowers to present to their children after a group singing performance and makes some observations about the over celebration of the ordinary deeds of our children. This may be the most subversive thing you’ll read today. […]

  11. […] (Don’t) Say it With Flowers Mike Wittmer: “Last night I attended my fifth grader’s school Christmas concert, and I noticed something I had never seen before. It seemed that every fourth parent was carrying cut flowers to give to their child. One even had a dozen roses. When did this start? And what does it mean?” […]

  12. Charles Wineman

    Great post. I’ve often wondered if the United State’s low ranking in science, math, and writing was partially because of our excessive celebration of accomplishments that take little or no effort to obtain. If a child is given over the top positive reinforcement for these type of accomplishments they may not see the value in working hard to obtain the same accolades they always receive. Excelling in any activity takes both talent and the will to overcome obstacles despite past failures and children that are “over-praised” for small accomplishments may not be equipped to overcoming adversity in their lives.

  13. […] Despite Doubt by Mike Wittmer – We don’t need to be afraid of our doubts. Mike Wittmer – – gifted as always – – shows how we can confidently embrace faith. (By the way, you ought to read Mike wondering if it isn’t a little over the top to give element…).” […]

  14. Terri McGarry

    I really think it is rooted in our idea that praise and affirmation (and flowers) produce great self-esteem. All the research indicates that ACTUALLY succeeding is what produces confident kids. Figure out how to help your kids accomplish something useful and developmentally appropriate. 3 year olds who put away the dirty utensils become 13 year olds who know how to barbecue (and clean up!). They want to subdue the earth, too, you know.

  15. Greg

    Mike, just curious, do your children attend state (public) or christian based schools? I’ve not witnessed this type of behavior at Lake Center Christian School (remember this place?) from grade school classes up through high school. What bothers me is the lack of christmas music with real meaning or purpose like your standard christmas hymns or tasteful reworks of the classics. Heck, I’ve be happy with anything new as long as wasn’t the silly stuff we hear every year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: