I did not have to shovel the inner recesses of my soul for the topic of my next blog. I am constantly being bombarded by it – my social media feed, my kids’ school communication folder, my weekend diary – it’s blatant and unavoidable! We are living on STEROIDS!! Although I could possibly write a rather entertaining blog about that guy at the gym who transformed from Somali sticks to Vin Diesel in a rather suspiciously short space of time; this post will explore the over-the-top, ostentatious and quite frankly outrageously fake path our daily lives have taken.
Planning a kid’s birthday party nowadays entails slightly more than simply hiring a jumping castle and purchasing a few sweets, soft drinks and maybe some helium balloons. These days our 4 year old’s birthday bash is curated around a theme where every last detail, right down to the party favour (how dare you say lucky packet!), is meticulously coordinated to ensure that no child leaves the party confused as to whether they just attended a Frozen or Sofia the First event. Exceptionally talented bakers have had to up their games to turn out three tier, ombre masterpieces, where each shade of pink has a distinctly different flavour. The gourmet food is labelled on pretty, little chalkboards just in case an adult woman does not realise that the sand like granules next to the white liquid are in fact coffee and milk and because 4 year olds can read that it is in actual fact a hot dog. Hang on….please remind me if I was writing about a toddler’s birthday party or a wedding?!
While a party can perhaps be bypassed with some clever negotiation, education can unfortunately not be omitted! Please correct me if I am mistaken, but when I attended school, extra murals ranged from extra maths to extra Afrikaans. As I write this, my kids are nagging me to attend taekwondo, karate (yes apparently there is a difference!), junior chef, golf, horse riding, speech and drama, embroidery, arts and crafts and ballet all on a Monday afternoon! We are bombarded by what the ideal lunch box should contain, labels in every imaginable size and shape and school bags with price tags that could be confused with overnight, designer luggage. Forgive me for perhaps oversimplifying the issue, but back in the nineties, our diaries did not resemble that of a Fortune 500 CEO, nor did we have lunch boxes with 27 compartments, and what do you know, I’d like to think we turned out perfectly fine (well most of us at least!).
While I am reminiscing, here is a confession – the first time I had a full on, professional make-over was on my wedding day! And guess what, I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed that I could attend varsity sans winged eyeliner. I am not ashamed that when I went out with friends; lip-gloss was as glamorous as it got. These days there is no place for Plain Janes. These days you dare leave the house for that function without a perfectly painted face. These days tutorials do not instruct you on how to apply the Pythagoras theorem but rather detail the step by step method on contouring your face to ensure that you are selfie ready. Having said this, I salute the phenomenally talented women out there who have managed rather successfully to turn our narcissism into actual professions and wonder regrettably why I wasn’t aware of this career path when I was picking between BCom, Actuarial Science and Medicine back in the day.
I know I know, what business is it of mine how the other half choose to spend their money right? I know I know that perhaps behind all the pompous parties and posts about where to purchase Burberry junior, we are all doing our best to nurture well rounded, compassionate kids who will make a tangible difference in this world. Or are we???? I am well aware that some of you reading this are labelling me as an envious, confrontational hypocrite (maybe even a B#$%) and I am almost certain I am going to receive a whole heap of backlash. But I say BRING IT!
Let’s debate how do we draw the very fine line between giving our kids the very best and indulging their inner spoilt brats. I want us to contemplate what it is that we are teaching our kids by packing tempura prawns with a side of sweet chilli sauce and gherkins for Tuesday lunch break. Are we not hypnotising our children to believe that this is the norm? No, my child, this is your norm. A Syrian kid’s norm is simply survival and picking breadcrumbs from the rubble to add to a watery soup. A Kayelitsha kid’s norm is to beg at the nearest traffic light while slowly succumbing to the virus that he was born with.
Why are we under constant stress and pressure to keep up with other people’s versions of success? Why do we feel like complete failures simply because we cannot and most often, choose not to, compete in the marathon that our daily lives have succumbed to? And more importantly why do we only feel a sense of accomplishment based on praise and admiration from other people who are usually complete strangers “liking” or “commenting” on our social media posts?
Unfortunately I do not have a deep, philosophical conclusion to this post. I just know there has to be so much more to this thing called life than constantly trying to emulate a skewed perception of someone else’s perfectly snapped existence. I just know that if we don’t change this vicious cycle, the future generation will be something rather ugly and absolutely nothing to be proud of.
Life Book Hacks:
- Instead of throwing a party for your kid’s next birthday, use the money to spoil some underprivileged kids with cake and gifts and spend the day living in their circumstances. It might not just be an eye opener for your kids but for you as well. I know of a few friends who have introduced this tradition and I think it is an absolutely amazing idea.
- Have some friends over for a “Plain Jane Tea”. By this, I am prohibiting anything that minutely resembles a high-tea, just normal tea and some good old fashioned plain cake. Maybe fry some simple mince samosas just to make the hi-tech, jalapeno, extra cheesy counterparts in the freezer next to them jealous! Right of admission is reserved for friends with zero make up and zero Louboutins!