By Sharon Loh
We were trimming our Christmas tree on Tuesday night when the live finale of reality singing contest The Voice started on TV.
As the girls and I flocked to sit in front of the box, the husband beat a hasty retreat, wondering out loud: “What is so interesting about that show?”
I don’t know, why did the Romans like to watch gladiators fight to the death?
Anyway, he went to do something more edifying, like trawl real news sites for the latest updates on the United States President-elect, while the women of the household made predictions of who would win the competition.
My children were rooting for We (pronounced Way) McDonald, a prodigiously talented teenager who speaks like she is on helium, which merely makes her rich and deep singing voice all the more amazing.
But I had a feeling, based on the previous 10 shows, that the winner would be Sundance Head, a white male country singer with a disposition like his name and a voice made for rock ‘n’ roll.
As we settled down, one of the children was reminded of the night in November we had done just this to watch the presidential election results. “But that was worse,” she said. “That was the worst night ever.”
In Tuesday’s far less important but equally tight contest, McDonald finished third out of four finalists, and Head triumphed.
Like that distressing race for the White House, a deserving candidate was left out in the cold. Unlike that race, the winner of The Voice at least had the chops to deserve the advantage (we thought) given to him by his gender and ethnicity.
Still, it was yet another sobering lesson for the kids that you can work your butt off at something only to fall short at the end because someone else was better or had something you didn’t.
Related: Why you should let your child fail
As parents, we tell our kids, as we were told by our parents, to work hard because nothing worth having comes by easily. You must apply yourself if you want to reap the rewards.
But the truth is that hard work doesn’t always pay – at least not always in the way we want. This is especially in a popularity contest such as The Voice – and one might add, the presidential election – where you have no control over other people.
Despite Hillary Clinton’s superior character and platform, her rival won, because of a clever strategy playing the Electoral College, helped by a low voter turnout.
We are still processing the outcome and hoping against hope that it might actually reverse itself, if enough electors go against the choice of their states.