Saturday, April 4, 2009


I conducted a poll on a website for moms, CafeMom, posing the question, "How many moms think they deserve a gold star, just for trying?"

I gave four possible responses:

1. "Definitely! The biggest one you have!"

2. "Yes, please?!"

3. "Give it to somebody who deserves it more...well, OK."


4. "No."

I should be happy with the responses. Just over half, 51%, of the 29 respondees chose Definitely! The biggest one you have! That is great and it certainly jives with what I've seen. So many strangers take the star with a smile and a thank you, surprising me still that they don't even ask why, for what, they just know they deserve it, want it,need it,love it.

Another 31% of respondents answered "Yes, please?!" Also great. A little more tentative in their self love, trepidatious of their deserving, but still willing and able to receive a star. Cool. Even the 6% who responded in martyr form, "Give it to somebody who deserves it more...well, OK," were obviously willing to take it after a weak fight. I'm slightly worried about them, but not so much.

It is the 10% who feel totally undeserving, that even in private would answer a straight up "No," that sadden me. Those are the people my project cannot reach, I think.

I thought, briefly, that these might be the same women that go on to the Cafe Moms site or others to reach out to virtual strangers with entreaties such as "Bawling my eyes out, really need someone to talk to!" or "Feeling really depressed and ugly,what can I do for a change?" or "Have 2 lose weight." But then I thought better, reasoned that I was probably wrong. At least these women are crying out,trying to get help,looking for a way out of their depression, their dilemmas. Likely, these 10%, these who feel totally undeserving, are quietly reading about others' problems, maybe relating but keeping mum, silently seething. It is not good.

I told a friend about my project today and he listened, not saying much. Then, he offered up, "Maybe you should color code it." When I looked at him questioningly, he explained, "You know, like some people should get black stars..."

I told him he was not alone, that I had found others who thought first of the people who don't deserve a gold star, who instead deserve a bit of bad blood, a black star or an angry face or a frown. I proffered up my philosophy on the gold star, how I felt that if everybody, early on and throughout their life, was able to get recognition for trying, to get acknowledged, maybe we wouldn't have so many angry people. As I spoke I looked at him and saw the skepticism in his eyes. With a laugh, I began to defend myself and the ideas expressed in my blog, "I bet you think my blog would seem..." as I struggled for a word, he offered up his own: "Judgmental?"

Hmmm. "I was thinking I was trying not to be judgmental, actually," I said. "I think everybody deserves one." After that, the conversation was over. I doubt he'll read my blog. But the comment made me think. Who is judging who? Could it be that the 10% who don't even think they deserve a gold star are the most judgmental, surely of themselves and, likely, of others? Isn't it true that if we allow ourselves to feel worthy and deserving we are more likely to extend the same consideration to others? People who cut themselves off from receiving have probably, in their bitterness, cut themselves off from giving as well, or they give angrily, because they feel they have to even whilst their resentment mounts. It is a vicious cycle.

I said I'm not idealistic, but I lied. I try to erase the shoulds, but really just the negative ones. I think everyone should get a gold star, that everyone deserves it, that the idea, brought to its greatest end, could actually turn people around. I am that naive.

I am so magnanimous in my belief that I even feel a bit guilty about giving the bird to the jerk in the black car who tried to run me over yesterday as I crossed with the walk sign, a sign that gave me rights that he, in his big hurry, didn't give a shit about. I flipped him off as he sped away, his white wall tires skidding mere inches from the feet I had slowed to teach him a valuable lesson. But, really, it should have been a gold star I held up, high in the air for him to see, to learn from, to know that somebody cared. If he felt more deserving, he probably wouldn't be such a dick. I do believe that, really, but sometimes it's hard to practice what you preach. Mr. In A Hurry, if you're reading, big gold star for you!


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  2. Perhaps you should have a gold star tatooed to your middle finger so you can really get your point across. Also, keep in mind that in a sample of 29, 10% is only 2.9 people.