“We’re Off to See the Wizard…”

During my university days, I had a roommate who had both bad health and a morbid sense of humour. He used to tell me, “Jim, when you get up in the morning, check the obituaries. If my name’s not in there, then wake me up.” Years later, I still blame him for my dark habit of starting the day with a reading of the obits. (I guess one could argue that I am just utilizing the ultimate “backward design.”)

The write up on Karl Stover’s life caught my eye this morning. Stover, 93, was one of the last remaining munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz.” Born in the Czech Republic, his childhood reads like something out of a Dickens’ novel.

Because of his height (He reached 4-foot-5 as an adult.), his father used to soak him in burning oil and then put him on a stretching machine in an attempt to make him grow. When dear old dad (who was rarely compared to Fred MacMurry) realized that these treatments didn’t work, he sold his son to a traveling circus.

As ghastly as all of this was, I wonder if today we parents are still plagued by the thought that our children are somehow inadequate? Do we have different kinds of “stretching machines” and different sorts of circuses?


3 thoughts on ““We’re Off to See the Wizard…”

  1. @UCC mother: I couldn’t agree with you more. I have watched as one of my children received award after award. It always seems to be the same kids. Another of my children was not in the winner’s circle. Looking at them all, I do not see that those awards helped motivate anyone. The recipients are typically the kids who do not need to put forth the greatest effort while the kids on the sidelines often work harder with no recognition. Doing as well as one can ought to be the only award/reward necessary.
    Your suggestion to limit prize day to the graduating class has merit. Of course winning an award or several in the final year of high school is not always the best predictor of who will go on to do well in life, whether the future includes university and /or the working world.
    The only expectation we should have of our children is that they try their best and it is time to stop the focus on awards or even marks, which has only led to grade inflation.
    I find it strange that parents take a lot of the blame since when we advise our children to consider NOT doing every sport or team or club and taking some time to be a kid, they are penalized in subtle ways at school for not “participating” and as a result being ineligible for certain end of year awards.
    I look back at my school years. Many of the underdogs from that time are now the ones who are hiring and firing the award winners.

  2. Regrettably, I believe many parents are using their own “stretching machines” with a view to getting sons and daughters to a place (wherever that may be) they’ve decided is the best circus going. Most would defend it’s well intentioned however with all due respect, it may be well intentioned but it’s also sadly mis-guided.

  3. Thought provoking! This is an important question for parents to ponder…. and to pose to school principals.While students could be named as award recipients throughout their school years, prize day could be limited to the graduating class, rather than an annual event that all the boys are required to sit through.

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