Thursday, May 31, 2012

Catastrophe Awards and Mothers Who Go to the Media About Them

Please tell me y'all saw the story yesterday on Yahoo! about the mom in Arizona who went to the media about the fact that her 8 year old daughter's teacher gave her kid a 'Catastrophe' award at the end of the school year, because the little girl had the most excuses for not turning in her homework.

If you haven't heard about it, please take a second to read the story, so my post today makes more sense. I'll be here when you get back, I promise, and I know you'll come back, because my rants are amazing.
Mother of the Year, right there...
Christina Valdez, pic courtesy of

Are y'all ready? Here we go...

I want to pat Christina Valdez (the mother) on the back, and get her number so I can ask her parenting advice from here on out. She obviously gets the Mother of the Year award for many reasons:
  1. She's such an amazing mother, that she made sure her daughter did her homework every night. In fact, my guess would be that she sat down with her daughter and helped her with her homework every night, just to make sure it was done. In the least, she asked her daughter if her homework was done when she picked her up from the 'after-school homework assistance program'. An answer of, 'Yes, Mom' from an 8 year old is always 100% trustworthy.
  2. When her 8 year old brought this award home to her, she was immediately outraged, and rightfully so. What kind of teacher jokes around with her students? Teachers and students should never interact in a way that could make learning fun. So, Christina took matters above the teacher's head to the principal, because expressing her concern to the child's teacher is a completely unreasonable idea. Great moms always blow things out of proportion.
  3. Apparently the principal 'blew her off', so she went to the media, as any amazing mother should. I mean, come on. The award, which was given to the little girl in front of her whole class, according to Christina is, "...cruel and no child should be given an award like this. It's disturbing." Having her child humiliated by her class is a horrible thing. Now, having the entire world know about it, by going to the media, is definitely not going to do any more harm than good, so yes, an amazing mother goes the media to make this travesty known.
Sheesh, give me an effing break.

In the actual news article, they interviewed psychologists who said that this award is inappropriate, and such an award can cause kids at this age to "feel fearful of authority of what might happen if they make a mistake."

WTF happened to consequences of actions? The little girl didn't do her homework, apparently all year
long, and had excuse after excuse. Bringing that to light, in front of her peers, nonetheless, is going to ensure that the child does her freaking homework. If she didn't want to be embarrassed, she should have done her effing homework.

In all honestly, if my 7 year old came home with an 'award' saying he hadn't done his homework all year (which I'd throw the bullshit flag on, because I help him with his homework each night) and it embarrassed him, would you like to know my response?

Well, sweetheart, maybe you should have done your homework.

I may have had a word with the teacher about her method, but probably not. Would I have gone to the media about it? Hell no.

I can say, there is one thing about this article I agreed with. One of the psychologists said that, "Educators should always strive to empower kids." This I agree with. But, the thing is, we don't know what this educator did to try and empower this child to do her homework all year long. Maybe the teacher had numerous talks with the little girl about doing her homework, and the little girl still refused to do it. Maybe the educator tried to have parent-teacher conferences with the mother, but the mother failed to show up because she going to the media about how the local grocery store didn't honor her coupon for $0.35 off of her cat litter, and standing in the grocery line was embarrassing to her. Maybe the teacher was at her wit's end with this little girl and her mother, and got nowhere with them all year long, so as a last ditch effort, she decided to employ the 'learn by embarrassment' method.
The infamous Catastrophe card, pic courtesy of

Do you think after this award, the little girl will do her homework next year? I'd bet on yes.

What in the hell is this woman teaching her daughter? If the daughter doesn't do what is required of her in life, and she gets called out on it, then pitch a bitch fest and go to the media? Why isn't the mother focusing on how she didn't check to see if the little girl's homework was done each day, or, better yet, why isn't she bitching at the after-school homework assistance program? Apparently they failed to do their job, along with the mother failing to do hers.

But, I guess it's okay. In this day an age, if you fail at something, just figure out who to point the finger at, and run with it, right? Run straight to the media.

I say, Bravo, Mrs. Plowman. My kids and I are moving to Tucson next month, and I wish The Ginger could be in your class. You create your awards, complete with smiley faces. In fact, create an award for Christina Valdez...

Most Sand in Her Vagina Award.

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  1. As usual, when you're right, you're right. I would have been mortified too! Because I had FAILED AS A PARENT. There comes a time when you need to woman up and accept responsibility for your part for your child's low points in life.

    1. Thank you, ma'am. I failed to mention that aspect, didn't I? I covered how taking it to the entire world would further embarrass her kid, but not how the whole world now knows she failed as a mom. Hahahaha! Good stuff!

  2. Finally! I get to disagree with you about something. I knew it was going to happen, but we were kind of in a honeymoon faze.

    I agree that she was an idiot to take it to the media. I disagree that it was okay for the teacher to do this. On the one hand, I would want my children's teachers to joke around with them, were they in school. Too bad I'm an overprotective parent that homeschools. ;P On the other hand, I think teachers need to be careful about the type of teasing they do.

    If this girl's mom is not involved, and it sounds like she's not, then teasing the girl about not getting her homework done can be humiliating. Really, it's the mom's fault, not the little girl's. When we publicly humiliate children for things they've done wrong, it's not encouraging to them to do better, at least not most children. Most children, it seems to just shut them down.

    I was always taught, "Praise in public, correct in private." I have no idea where I got this advice. I just think it's good advice. It allows children to hold their head up in public, an important thing when you're in an environment that feeds on weakness. Personally, I think this sort of thing is a form of bullying, and the teacher is teaching the other students that it's okay to tease the student about not having her homework.

    I *do* understand what the teacher was trying to do. I don't blame her for trying to bring humor to a situation that must be extremely frustrating for her. I do think the principal should be able to take a step back and say, "You know, this isn't something she should be disciplined for, but I should probably let her know it's not the best idea."

    Then again, my child has panic attacks just thinking about standardized testing, (even though I constantly told him I didn't care how he did on *any* of his school work, let alone the testing!) which is why he is no longer in school, and spends so much time in counseling. LOL

    1. Ahh, yes, we finally disagree, lol. I still hold that we have no idea what the teacher did leading up to the award, so this could have been her last resort, and the only way left to get through to the mother.

      As always, though, I love your comments, even if we do disagree!

  3. You said everything I told my husband yesterday, minus the sand in the vagina part, which I would have said, if I had thought of it. :)

    1. Sand in the vagina is a pretty regularly used phrase in my house, after the kids go to bed, of course, lol. Thanks!

  4. As a teacher, and parent of of an 11 yo and 17 yo, I have mixed feelings. When I put on my high school teacher hat, I believe that it was probably an award that would have best been given to an OLDER child who can better discern the humor and sarcasm intended in the award. I also think the use of the word catastrophe is a bit over the top, and perhaps a better choice of words would have been less "stinging" to the mom.

    The teacher is more than likely frustrated, and the intent of the award was probably for Mom and not the child. While we don't know what the teacher did the entire year to remediate and support this little girl throughout the year, I do think that the EVERYONE failed this child. First and foremost, Mom failed her in not being there for her. Tatted Mom, I agree with your assessment of Mom 100%. She failed miserably at her most basic charge and is now looking to place the blame and embarrassment elsewhere.

    I would also like to add that the media is doing a great friggin' job of vilifying the school and teacher, but the real question should be "Why is Mom making a bigger issue out of the end of year award than she did out of year of school work?" From a teacher's perspective, parents tend to latch on to anything that will take away culpability from their parenting or their child's shortcomings. It's what's truly wrong with society! We have this entitlement mentality that is pervasive and it is married to the idea that it's ALWAYS someone else's fault. Perhaps responsible parenting would have led to the MOST IMPROVED award.

    From a parent's perspective, I disagree with the use of humiliation at that early age. Teacher's can build confidence just as easily as they can destroy it, and for kids who don't have loving and stable homes even more so. That doesn't mean that a good healthy dose of embarrassment is good for a child, but that young without someone to help you process it... I just disagree with that. Would I have taken it to the media? F*ck no! That means I have to be judged as well, and given the award the child received *ahem* Apple-Tree!

    As a society we need to start taking stock in what matters, and having personal accountability. We want teachers to teach the subject matter, AND manners, AND social skills, AND problem solving, AND be parents to the troubled kids, AND...AND...AND. How about we parent our children and let the teachers teach the subject matters. If we all do our part imagine how much more productive our society would be?

    *stepping down from soap box* Thanks for letting me rant Tatted Mom! :)

    1. Yes! You said what I was thinking. Thank you!

    2. Thanks for your reply, Unintentional Mom. I do agree with many things you said, about failure everywhere on this topic- the mom, the school, everything. I guess I tend to lean toward the 'tough love' parenting standpoint sometimes, and am very big on my kids understanding consequences of their actions. So, to me, I don't find as much of a problem with this award as other parents. I do agree the word 'Catastrophe' was a bit much; she should have just given the Award for Most Excuses for Not Having Homework, lol.

  5. Kudos to you, great article. I successfully raised my daughter and as a single, working mother, sat down with her every night after dinner when she was young to ensure that homework was done. Was it fun? No. Was it my job? OF COURSE. She learned to be responsible. We had parameters set. She didn't win at everything and I didn't teach her mental masturbation to soothe her little ego if things didn't go her way. I taught her to suck it up, learn from it and move forward. Life lessons. Of course I comforted her...she knew to trust me with her feelings, and it was OKAY to be sad, to lose, and she learned about consequences... now as an honors graduate with a full academic scholarship to a private University, with many friends and seen as a success with a great work ethic(so far)by her employer, I don't regret it. Sure, the mom deserved the award, but in this age of "everyone's a winner" and "feel good" awards and grades, let's call it what it is...reality. Amazing how fragile all these little egos today are, and how terribly things like this suddenly will damage an entire generation of children. No wonder we hhave become a nation of sue-happy whiners, finger pointers and moaners who have no concept of what personal responsibility is, nor what earning praise or deserving wins, etc. means. Geez, give me a break. It's this entitlement attitude that got us in trouble and the "mommies" (or should I say breeders)that continue with this mindset and feel the need to blame the teacher and cry to the media that continue to make a mockery of us altogether.

    1. Very amazing reply, thank you. Congrats on raising an awesome kid, as a single mom, too. =)

  6. Thanks for that blog post - and most of all for teaching me the phrase 'sand in her vagina'!
    It's always the hubby that's got sand in HIS vagina at our house.. still 'sand in HIS vagina' I think that's even better!
    He's a teacher - and the countless number of parents that don't take accountability for their own kids' bad grades and attitude gives him LOTS of sand in his vagina..
    and boy does he hate sand! his biggest pet peeve is sand in the bed!!

    1. No problem, glad I could expand your vocabulary! If you want more crazy lingo, you should read 'Tatted Mom's Vocabulary Lesson #1'... =)