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Mothers Who Think: Doesn't anybody believe in a little healthy competition? Wanderlust: Have you lived abroad? Social Issures: Are Suburbs "Hell on Earth?"

By From Table Talk
Published April 30, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Doesn't anybody believe in a little healthy competition?

Mothers Who Think | Nancy Campbell - 02:48pm Apr 27, 1999 PDT (# 15 of 42)

I think participation awards, especially in sports, are fine. I object when
prizes and awards make no distinction between hard workers and slackers. At
my daughter's 6th grade public school awards ceremony, the guidance
counselor opened the event with a speech about how awards didn't really
mean anything, basically comparing winning academic awards with winning the
lottery. She managed to insult students who worked hard for their awards
(NOT my daughter), without making non-award-winners feel any better.

My daughter competed in cross-country this year, and the coaches, parents
and team all seemed to be about healthy competition. No one disparaged
anyone. My daughter improved her time dramatically and got an award for
that, even though she was not one of the best runners. I think it's
possible to acknowledge everyone's efforts realistically in a way that
doesn't make anyone feel like shit. When my daughter started in
cross-country, she came in last several times. She told me that her coach
told her to hang in there, that she really had heart and would improve. I
thought it was great coaching: encouraging yet honest and believable. And
the coach was right.

Have you lived abroad?

Wanderlust | DJC NYC - 11:22am Apr 28, 1999 PDT (# 33 of 33)

I lived in Krakow, Poland for two years, November 94 until November 96. I
also agree that your first priorities should be to learn the language and
to use it. Also, when you have trouble finding something, forget your
assumptions of where it would be. For instance, in Poland the stores seem
to be organized in terms of materials. I can remember explaining to new
arrivals the existence of the "Red Plastic Department" where you could find
a number of things, many of such seemed entirely unrelated except that they
were or could be made of red plastic. There was always trouble with tampons
and toilet paper. The place you were guaranteed to find them was in the
stationary store. Also, if there are plastic baskets just inside the
entrance to a store, take one. Never mind if you are only there for one
tiny item. If you don't take a basket, all the clerks will frown at you and
follow you about. You are assumed to be a shop-lifter. Some things may not
exist. After about three weeks, the new foreigner would have run out of
time to simply come upon a laudromat and be reduced to asking where the
heck were they. They weren't, though by the time I left, there were two
used almost exclusively by foreigners. It seems the Poles are squeamish
about putting their clothes in the same machine that has been used by who
knows who. Oh, I could go on and on, and do at the least opportunity. I'll
never forget it and never regret it, and actually intend to take my social
security and go live where it will support me well. There's nothing like
moving across an ocean and back again to clarify exactly what you value
most. I also now have absolute total admiration for and openness to
immigrants. Anyone who has the gumption to leave everything he or she knows
and go to a new country with no intention of coming back has the kind of
courage and strength any country can do with more of.

Are Suburbs "Hell on Earth?"

Social Issures | Dan Icolari - 03:42pm Apr 24, 1999 PDT (# 2 of

...I know Littleton--not well, but well enough, since I visit my
brother-in-law there from time to time. On one visit, I was alone in the
house and decided to go out walking. Block after empty block of perfect
lawns, manicured shrubs, and tasteful facades. The occasional strip mall.
Utterly interchangeable with countless places just like it everywhere.

I remember feeling not just excruciating boredom but almost panic about
getting the hell out of there and back to a city (in this case, Denver)
with some diversity in architecture and options and people.

I'm not proposing a direct connection between suburban life and violence,
but I wonder about the effect on kids who grow up in these unrelentingly
bland environments, where there is little if any experience of the
diversity and excitement that have always characterized cities--even a
second-tier city like Denver.

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