I've always had a love affair with America. It started when my parents took me to Disneyland as a kid. Those oversized sodas, the bright shiny lights, the 'sure-we-can' attitude. They had me at have a good day!
I subsequently returned several times, and it remains my favourite place in the world. Not just because of the super-size everything, or the weather, or the awesomely affordable clothes - but the people. I love them.
It's not very English to admit liking success, or wealth, or to be positive or self-congratulatory or patriotic. Yet these are all characteristics that Americans proudly posses and I for one, like it.
I'm all for high-fives, celebrating success and having a dream, and we can learn a lot from them. But.... there's also a line, a point where you have to acknowledge the occasional failure.
For me, the tipping point is that unflappable self-belief that you can achieve anything if you want it hard enough. Sure, if you have the talent and are willing to put 10,000 hours in (*Malcolm Gladwell) then you'll succeed.
But just because you want something 'so much' doesn't mean it's going to happen for you. Case in hand - disillusioned X Factor contestants, some unable to hold a note yet convinced of their conviction for world domination. Where were their families when they were butchering Adele, who told them it would ever be a good idea to make prats of themselves on national TV?
So I welcomed the news this week that it's actually a good thing to celebrate your children's failure.
Now I'm no Earth Mother, all I want for my kid is to have a happy childhood, do well at school and have fun along the way. But I'm beginning to feel increasingly alone in this philosophy. My baby is just four months, yet other parents I meet of similar age babies are already scouting out private schools and special clubs to push them along the way. Jeez, I just want to go to Mothercare and hang out at the reduced aisle in Waitrose while I ponder over what to have for tea tonight!
If there was ever a time to enjoy life without pressure, it's surely now. Yet the pushiness starts early these days. I see it in at the nursery gates, at swimming clubs, in the frickin' queue for Tesco ('spell humus Tilly' was an actual conversation I heard the other day!)
But back to the research - it suggests that exposing your child to failure and acknowledging their weakness can be hugely beneficial. It gives them an opportunity to develop their coping skills, resilience and creativity, which will enable them to succeed in life.
Basically - failures are life's secret winners. Right?
Thinking back to my own childhood, I was the dumb ass in the family. To my shame, my effortlessly clever younger brother even had to teach me Maths. I spent my entire childhood trying to keep up with a pace I wasn't able for, because my parents believed I was lazy and could be working harder. Try as they did, I barely scraped through school. But the resilience and strength I had from bouncing back and being the underdog would turn out to be my greatest asset.
Fast forward twenty years, and I'm actually a success. But, I still feel out of my depth and keep waiting for the day someone pulls me aside and sends me down to the canteen, where I really should be working! I work in an office of boffins - people I am most certainly not intellectually compatible with, people who use words I still have to look up in the dictionary, people who are part of the National Trust and read the Guardian. Yeah, properly clever ones! I often wonder how I got the job but conclude that it must be my over-developed personality and creative 'can-do' attitude, that only consistent failure can prepare you for!
My baby will not endure the pressure to succeed that I had, nor will he be allowed to coast along. I will be his greatest cheerleader and best friend. But when he breaks into song and sounds anything less than Sam Smith, I'll be the first to tell him to take up the recorder instead!
Sophia is proud failure, has one baby boy and is the Editor of the Milk Drunk Diary.