The Rockwood Files: The Blessings of Being “Boring”

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Unless you’ve recently been run over by a reindeer or were in a coma, you have no doubt heard more than you probably wanted to about golfer Tiger Woods’ personal scandal. It’s nearly impossible to tell which parts of the allegations swirling around him are true or not true, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s a big ol’ mess. Women, lies, text messages, voicemails, and a car crash – the guy’s personal life is a bigger wreck than his SUV.

The ironic part is that, before all this happened, he was considered to be one of the more socially boring pro athletes to report about. At this point, I bet that guy would do just about anything to go back to being “boring.”

Of course, “boring” is a subjective thing. Different people have varying definitions for it. But lately I’m thinking that, to be considered boring by society’s standards, probably just means you’re not nuts or destructive.

Crazy or destructive behavior gets attention. It makes the news. When things are complicated, our human nature wants us to wade through the messy details and try to make sense of it. And with a gazillion news outlets now available to us, you can bet that anything crazy or destructive – especially when it includes celebrities, sex or both – will get a fair amount of air time or newsprint.

As a mom to three young kids, I worry sometimes about how to make sure my kids know the difference between “famous” and “infamous.” I wonder if they already put more value on being famous than they should.

A few years ago, a book called “Fame Junkies” by author Jake Halpern took a hard look at American society’s obsession with all things famous. One of the most startling parts of the book involved a study the writer did with more than 650 middle school students. He asked them which of the following options they would choose to become: a CEO of a major corporation, the president of Yale or Harvard, a Navy SEAL, a U.S. Senator, or “the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star.” Almost half of the girls surveyed chose to become an assistant to someone famous. Scary, huh? They’d rather pick up famous dry cleaning than establish their own place in the world.

When given a choice to become either “stronger, smarter, famous or beautiful, boys in the survey chose fame almost as much as intelligence and girls chose it more often.”

These results are even more alarming when you consider how some of the most famous celebrities and athletes in the world do things you wouldn’t ever want to see your kids do. We can only hope kids learn about the personal fallout of celebrity bad behavior.

Despite Tiger Woods’ amazing professional success and regardless of how many more tournaments he wins in years to come, this month’s scandal will follow him in every future article ever written or produced about him. It’s an ugly stain he can’t erase, not with any amount of money, fame or success.

So I hope Tom and I are doing our jobs well enough to teach our kids what they need to know. I hope they’ll learn the difference between noteworthy and newsworthy because, these days, they’re not always the same.

I hope they won’t want their “15 minutes of fame” at any cost.

I hope they embrace spontaneity but are also predictable enough to be counted on by those who need them.

I hope they’re wise enough to know that “complicated” does not always equate to “interesting.”

I hope they realize that “Just do it” is a cool slogan for running shoes but it shouldn’t dictate every decision you make.

I hope their ethics carry more weight than their feelings.

I hope they know some things are sacred, and there are some lines you just don’t cross.

I hope they don’t do stupid or destructive things just to feel alive or just because they can, regardless of who it might hurt.

I hope they opt for peace rather than drama in their personal relationships. Drama is great for prime-time television and reality shows, but it sure doesn’t play well in real life.

In short, I hope they grow up to be “boring,” in the very healthiest sense of the word. Because sometimes it’s good to be boring. Not just good – it’s a blessing.

Here’s wishing you and yours a “boring,” blessed holiday season.

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