When I was six I did my first Six Years and Under Baby Dance Solo. No, this is not Toddler’s and Tiaras...not far off though! My dance was called, “Putting Dolly to Bed.” In my beautiful broderie anglaise bloomers and nightdress, long black hair brushed perfectly and bright red lips, I got up on stage ready to perform. My parents had paid for weeks of private lessons to learn my solo. I took my first elegant, well rehearsed steps out on the stage, did my first couple of spring points (ballet geeks, you know what I’m talking about).......promptly forgot the next minute and a half, froze and ran off the stage crying.
And we have it on video.
I have never watched it. 26 years on and I still cannot watch it. I walked in on my sister watching it once and I nearly started crying on the spot.
Which is why, when I watched Romy on The Voice Kids this week, I have ended up with mixed feelings. For those non reality TV addicts in the audience who have no idea what I am talking about, Romy is 12, sang her little heart out (Adele of all artists…..aim high!) but none of the judges turned their chair. And the poor little poppet, who strongly sang right up until the last note, dissolved into tears as soon as she finished.
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Many have had their opinions aired in print and online articles, on A Current Affair….even Karl put in his two bobs worth on the Today Show. And I have to say I have ebbed and flowed through many different feelings about the whole situation.
My first reaction was heartbreak. As a parent you can’t help but watch that show and beg the judges to turn around, purely because you can see the bare vulnerability that is oozing out of both the contestant and the anxious parents back in the green room. With tears in our eyes, both Miss 11 and I have been known to look at each other exclaiming, “Oh, the poor thing!”
Then, as the comments started flying on social media, blogs, TV shows etc, the tough love started to manifest. One of my biggest concerns with kids these days (Oh my, did I just say ‘kids these days’), is their lack of resilience. And I thought, it’s a competition. She went into it knowing that she might not get through. Her parents knew she might not get through. She’ll get over it. She’ll learn from it. It will make her a stronger person.
And there she was, not two nights later, on A Current Affair. Bubbly, smiley, carefree…all the things a 12 year old should be. ‘Wow’, I thought, ‘What a little trooper!’
But then, something Karl Stefanovic (Don’t judge me) said struck a chord.
He spoke about how this played out in front of millions of people and how at twelve years old, Romy could not have any concept of the enormity of her situation. And now, I tend to agree. I’m a bit of a fence sitter really. I’m the Switzerland of reality tv.
On the one hand, I do believe that this was a lesson in resilience, the very thing that I try to teach my kids and the kids in my classroom everyday. It was a lesson in how to cope with disappointment and on how to pick themselves back up. It was a real life lesson for that twelve year old and all the other twelve year old watching her, that rejection is real. That the journey to success is littered with hurdles, problems and often, rejection. Do we hide that from our kids or do we teach them how to overcome it?
However, the teacher (and six year old ballerina) in me, is still not completely convinced. And I struggle with that, because lack of resilience is a big one for me.
I think back to the difficulty I have in watching the video (REAL video…you know VHS!) of my six year old self, forgetting my dance and running off the stage. And that was in front of maybe 100 people. I have the ONLY copy of that video. Within minutes, Romy’s 3 minute blind audition was on Youtube, being replayed on numerous breakfast TV shows, A Current Affair and will NEVER be completely forgotten. Kids can be cruel. Especially tween/teen girls. The poor girl may be coping beautifully with the fact that she didn’t get through to The Voice. She may have bounced back and be completely over it. But this is not a 26 year old VHS, that only she has a copy of. This is all over the net, ready to be replayed at the click of a button….by anyone. I think that is the enormity that Karl is talking about and I tend to agree with that side too.
I told you….Switzerland!
Is The Voice Kids a chance for young children to work hard at the chance of being that one child selected? Because only one will win. All but one will experience this high, exposed level of rejection and disappointment. Is it a good thing that they will learn these lessons?
Yes. But my niggling doubt is……
Is it a good thing that they will learn these lessons in front of millions and millions of people and over and over again?