Thursday, September 12, 2013

First Place


Once again, the most artistic member of the Bauer Bunch has swept the competition. After a walk around the County Fair, a round of balloon darts and a basket of fried goodness, Nathan found out he secured another first place win.

Too bad he was gunning for second.

After last year's award-winning pig drawing, I would have been surprised if a little slip of paper wasn't tucked safely in his agenda book to tell me he had art selected for submission. I would have been surprised if his name wasn't printed on an awesome drawing hanging in the exhibit hall. I honestly would have been surprised if it didn't have a bright blue sticker on it, too!

What ended up surprising me the most was my kid's reaction.

I was anxious to hear the results as the sweaty boys slumped through the door yesterday afternoon. I asked Jonathan how Nathan did and he told me there was a first place sticker on this free-handed horse drawing. I started speaking in the high-pitched method I use when I'm desperate to convey my excitement to my children, yet there was no reciprocation on Nathan's part. He said he was proud and he loved his drawing, but muttered something about hoping for second place this year.

Upon further discussion, I tried my best to explain that even though two is more than one, first is better than second. {Life all made sense up until now, didn't it?} As I was failing to convince my sweet child that he not only did great, he did the best, I said something that caught his ear. I told him that first place meant his drawing was better than most of the others.

Oops.

"Mom, that doesn't sound very nice! I don't know if I want to be first place."

That's when it hit me that it didn't matter to him. And I felt embarrassed that it mattered so much to me. I want him to strive to do his best. I want him to win the ribbon, ace the test, make the goal, and be proud of it. That's when I thought about how I would react if he didn't.

What if that cute little horse had a red ribbon affixed to it? Or no ribbon at all? I wouldn't care. I would not be disappointed and I would not love this kid any less. All the poor boy wanted to do was look at his friends' drawings and eat a funnel cake. It's the same with soccer. Win, lose or draw, Nathan and friends are just happy to be there. Half of the time they don't know the score. They don't know who won at the end of the game. They just want to kick the ball around, high-five their buddies, and suck down a juice box on the way to the car.

I love this age. The innocence that comes naturally is something I want to bottle up for all us know-it-all grownups. I know competition is healthy and you better believe I'll be on the sidelines cheering these kids on for the rest of their lives. First will always be best, but can't we be okay with second sometimes, too? Can't we focus more on beating our personal best than beating everyone else? Can't we let our kids know that we aren't perfect and we don't expect them to be, either?

Sorry to gush, y'all, but once again the child has taught the parent a lesson. Nathan strives to be better than he was before. Being better than the other kids never crossed this six-year-old's mind. I could stand to ride this train of thought. Couldn't you? No matter what, I want Nathan to do what he loves, work hard for what he wants, and always be proud of his best.

Winning isn't everything, but it's still pretty impressive. ;)

{Go, Nathan!}


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