enjoying second place

It was with a bit of secret glee that I watched the so called “fastest” girl in grade 5 win first in the 100 but bomb the 400 in her heat. My daughter, the so called “slow” girl, got third in the 100 and kicked it like hell in her 400. She was way ahead of the pack and won a cool second place. She had been in first place but then a blonde in red caught up to her at the last minute and won by the length of a sneaker. This set my daughter into a fit of tears when she was handed her second place ribbon. All her friends fluttered around her, assuring her she did great but she couldn’t enjoy it. “I could have had first, Mommy, I could have had first.”


On our way home, the sun beat down on our sunburnt necks and the car seats were hot and sticky on our bare legs. She said, “It seems like you’re mad at me.” And I huffed, “I understand your frustration, you were so close to first, but you let it steal your victory of coming second. You did so well today honey, but you didn’t enjoy it. That’s a sucky way to live. Nobody likes a whiner.”

This did not make her feel better. But is it my job as a parent to make her feel better? No. Learn this lesson now, because God knows, we all know adults who act this way, sucking up all the energy in the room with their own disappointments. I should know. I catch myself being one of them.


The evening ended well though. The victory started to sink in the more she looked at those ribbons and the more she told people about the day. She curled up with her long slender legs, cuddling with her baby bunny, whispering ten year old things to those fuzzy little lop ears. I kiss her on the head. “I love watching you run. You have wonderful endurance.”


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