Fighting is overrated…so is winning.

It’s been a busy, hectic week for all. Five whole days of school is a couple days too much, says the School Counselor! But as I reflect on the week and the day, I am filled with appreciation. I am filled with optimism and an appreciation of the struggles.

First, this week was absolutely tough as a School Counselor. (y’all know what I’m talking about after being out for about a month. Kids have a lot of trauma and drama to catch you up on!). Instead of sharing the sad news which I often do, though, I’ll share how my week ended on a positive note.

It started at literally 7:15 a.m. Friday, being corned by a shiny character in the cafeteria. She was going to “have to fight” a neighborhood rival. I can understand her anger but this drama has gone round and round all year, both inside and outside of school. My friend spent 10 minutes venting about why she should fight this girl….but not in school, and not at her apartments (which is wise). After the rant session, she calmed down a bit and left for the day with a smile on her face even if the issue was unresolved.

The other partner in crime meets with me on Fridays in a girls’ lunch group for girls who have strong personalities and need some help steering. I had planned the lesson for teaching harassment and defining bullying. However, feeling the temperature of the day and long week, I scratched it, put on some yoga/meditation music, and we took turns reading and leading yoga poses. Our mantra was “I will be kind to myself. I will stay calm.” And, I’m telling you all….it worked.

The girl who is in a feud and usually spends half the group rolling her eyes said that she’s doing good, was mad earlier, but “fighting is overrated.” I don’t know if the principal or her teacher gave her those words but she proclaimed them proudly.

Then, towards the end of the group, a new and usually hostile girl spontaneously apologized to another group member for her behavior on the playground earlier in the week. After calmly discussing the playground problem which she had instigated with a couple girls including this group member, she left the room only to run into the girl she had been hateful to. She again organically apologized to the girl for her behavior and the other girl forgave her. success (fighting is overrated“)

Another successful, light-bulb moment came today at soccer with my own kid. You see Bo agreed to ‘coach’ or run an indoor soccer team when some other plans fell through and another dad bailed. Bo has never played soccer, nor has the assistant coach; they’re winging it! And, this team is comprised of a couple boys from Brody’s outdoor competitive team, some boys from school, and some boys who aren’t even on an organized soccer team at all. It’s a mix of kids who don’t ordinarily play on the same team but just want to go have fun together. And, they’re the only team like this.

Well, there’s only one bracket, not an ‘A’ and ‘B’ bracket as we originally were told. So, that just means we play club teams who are used to playing together. And, that also means there is almost no chance in actually winning a game. The scores have been in the range 19-2; it’s a killing. Today, we expected no different as we played a really great team with some super coaches.

No, we didn’t win….but they played hard. With only one sub. and 3 of the club players being out, it was a small, underdog team (but I love the underdogs)! They played their hearts out with almost no rest in the 45 minute fast-paced game. The score ended at 6-10. Red-faced and sweaty, the boys seemed happy. They deserved to be proud.

It wasn’t a win but I’ve realized winning is overrated too. It was SUCH a fun game to watch. We knew they had no chance to win so they just played. They had great attitudes, some pretty good passes, some strategy, and definitely great sportsmanship which is really ALL that matters. I’d take a lose anyday of the week over being a sore winner. It made me so proud to see a group of kids be happy with losing, knowing they gave it their all.

As I reflect on a tough week, I’d say it’s a win when you come out with a greater understanding of oneself and any accomplishment. It could be that you decided not to fight. It could be that you kept playing when you knew you were outmatched. It could mean that struggling student got a ‘C’ on the difficult math test. It could mean you got up and faced the day with courage when you know there are obstacles. The end result actually isn’t what matters most; it’s the path that we are traveling. Winning is gaining perspective. Winning is smiling when you lose. Winning is sticking with tough things. 

Hope you’ve had a ‘winning’ week because fighting and winning are overrated!

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The Winning Loser

Last night was Knox County’s Elite track meet covering all of Knox county. Kids must first place in the top 4 in the first, smaller meet to qualify. Over 800 kids attended last night’s meet, including around 20 kids from our little, ole’ school, which is pretty impressive. Surprisingly, Brody was one of those!

Most wouldn’t guess that the boy with a less-than-athletic body and little, white legs would be a sprinter but he is, the 100. Last year, he placed first in the regional meet, which was shocking. So this year, he went into the first meet, a couple of weeks ago with too much confidence.

I wasn’t able to attend but I kept my phone close and had Bo to give me updates and even a video of the race. Going into the first race, my husband said he was cocky, saying he’d beat these kids last year and he felt certain he would again. Much to his surprise, he placed 3rd in the first race. Apparently, he spent the next couple hours waiting for the final race sulking. He sat without hanging out with his friends or talking, as he was just sure he would win. His sweet PE coach even noticed and asked him if he was ok.

After placing 4th in the second race, he was less than enthused and made complaints later that night about why he should have had a faster time in the first race. Basically, he pouted that he placed 4th when I was celebrating. He still had qualified for the finals and he was (is) one of the fastest 4th grade boys in Knox county. But, he was seeing the glass as half-empty and didn’t even want to go to the Elite meet because “what’s the point?”.

Let me pause to note that this blog isn’t meant to brag about my kid, although I am proud. Wait for the lesson…….-

Like last year, we told him that it was his choice to compete BUT this was a privilege just to make the track team, and especially to advance on. Bo explained that he was robbing another boy’s opportunity and filling a slot that another boy may have wanted; the fifth place may have really wanted to go yet only the top 4 qualify. Plus, I added, even if he’s comes in the last, that’s still 16th of ALL KNOX county’s 10-year-old boys. That alone is something to celebrate. So, after some debate and convincing, he flatly said, “I’ll do it”.

He didn’t want to practice. He didn’t talk or think a lot about it, as he had prior to the first meet when he cried when it was postponed. He was doing it and not super excited because he knew he wouldn’t win. So, last night with a packed stadium and over 800 kids, he went to that track again. He didn’t seem super nervous nor excited.

Drumroll…… (No, he did not win! 🙂 ) But, he placed 4th in his heat, out of 8. It was a good race with his best time of 15.28. He seemed happy, but quiet. No complaining or arguing why he should have placed higher. No tears. No boasting as we waited another hour and half to hear the results for who made it to the finals. We knew it would be close, as only the top 8 times make it.

He placed 9th, with one hundredth of a second behind the next qualifying boy! We/ he thought he would have qualified so there was a twinge of disappointment when his name was not announced over the loud speaker. But, this time he briefly looked down and then looked right back up. No tears and even smiled back at me when I told him it was ok. That’s winning.

That’s proof that we can teach our children humility and good sportsmanship. And, I say this as a parent of a child that has NOT been a good sport lately. I say this because he yells, argues, or pouts when his sister scores a goal on him in a casual game of soccer or when his dad beats him in a friendly game of basketball. I say this because he couldn’t accept not being first a couple weeks ago.

I say this because kids can learn, and so can adults. I say this because we all (including me) are so caught up in being the best that we lose sight of the race and big picture. Humility is a hard lesson. So, we have to have these conversations. We have to explain what being a good sport looks like. Too many times, parents just accept their children’s bad attitude because they’re just competitive. Or, parents complain and whine along with them that the referee was wrong, or they deserved to win. It’s easy to do.

But, that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make for a humble, kind human when we only accept winning. Would I have liked for Brody to make the finals? Sure. Was he a little disappointed? Sure. But, am I more proud that he walked away without tears or complaints this time? Yes. That’s winning. That’s sportsmanship.

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#chooseyourcharacter

#proudbecauseofprogress

#winningisyourattitude

 

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