Billboard Displays of Parental Affection
My friends, earlier today, on the way to a football game with my eldest son, my eyes fell on a 50 by 20 ft billboard on which was plastered the face of a young lady, the daughter of a public figure in our country, celebrating her academic accomplishments.
The billboard, positioned alongside one of our nation's six highways, was highly visible, and the message on it indisputable: her parents were proud of her achievements.
This, of course, is not the first time I've seen the billboard. It's been up and alongside the highway for years before the pandemic, and prior to this latest banner, there were other billboards celebrating the accomplishments of the young lady's siblings.
Yep, these are some really proud parents. And given the small size of our island (5,128 km²- way, way smaller than the state of Florida, smaller even than South Florida, which is a tiny fraction of the state), I'd hazard a guess that a fairly large portion of our population has seen the billboards at least once.
In fact, the billboards have been the subject of local satire over the years.
And far be it for me to judge the parents' pride given that I am a parent myself and extremely proud of my own children, but it brings me to my question for you today: If you are a parent, how proud would you be of your children, and to what lengths will you go to demonstrate that pride? And where will you stop? What will you consider to be too much?
Mom, you're embarrassing me
When my sons were really young, they'd cuddle up on the back seats of the car with their pillows, sucking their thumbs, and they'd sing little ditties with me, and when they got to school, I'd get huge hugs and wet kisses and loud I love yous before they trundled off, backpacks and lunch bags in hand, to their classes.
As they grew older, however, they became a bit more private and reserved. Now, for my two older sons, there's the hurried I love you muttered under the breath as they dart out of the car, eyes averted lest I yell, "I love you" too loud.
Once, when my second son was leaving the car, I leaned out of the window, and I said, "Bye baby, I love you" as loud and as exuberant as Gloria on Madagascar.
"Mom!!" He waved anxiously at me. "Stop it, you're embarrassing me!"
And I'll be honest, friends. I couldn't immediately understand what was embarrassing about a parent's love and pride. I mean I'd give an arm and a leg if my mom would yell I love you in public today. But then I thought about it and I recollected that there was a time when I was growing up, when I was kind of finding my own identity, when I didn't necessarily want overboard, clingy love from my parents.
And mind you, my friends, I'm not saying that a billboard is clingy love or that it is overboard, far be it for me to say that, I'm speaking of my own experience and where I felt I needed at least an arm's space between my mom and I. It didn't last though. It was just for a few awkward years. But there was that time.
And so, gauging from my sons' reactions and conversations that we've had and their acute sensitivity to their peers and their social status, and their desire to carve their own identities, I've wondered about these young ladies who've been subject to public scrutiny and national jokes because of their parents' proud display. And I wondered how much of themselves could they truly have been, thrust as they were into the national spotlight. Did it make it awkward for them or were they perfectly fine?
Who knows? Perhaps they were perfectly fine. Perhaps they thrived in their parents' doting love. Perhaps they looked forward to the billboards. Perhaps one daughter was like, Daddy, my elder sister got one and I think I should have one too. Who knows, right? I mean the billboard's still there, so maybe she actually quite likes it. And maybe those who are critical of it or even questioning like I am, are probably nursing some sort of latent jealousy. I don't know, it could be, I guess.
But tell me, friends, if you're a parent, will you go so far as to demonstrate your pride on a national billboard for years on end? And if you're not a parent, how would you feel if your parents were this proud publicly?
Everyone has their own ways of doing things to be proud of their Children's achievement. As I was reading this, my mind was saying not everyone would want to try such in my country especially having the wicked and evil ones around who is ready to kill the children because they feel they are proud of them. Human beings are wicked, so, parents would prefer celebrating them indoors than creating billboard for them.
I think your kids are now in the stage of identity according to Erik Erikson stages of development. The stage that talks about children wanting to discover their identity and be sociable among peers. So, when they were little, it is easier for them to shout "I love you" but as they grow up, they change too.