Monday, October 7, 2013

The Art of Losing Well

Em and Jax were in a coloring contest this weekend. The winner was to be notified by phone that same afternoon, so Em waited all day for a phone call. She was pretty confident her perfectly colored pumpkin would take home first. Matt told me a story about how when he was about the same age, he and his little brother entered a coloring contest, too. Matt colored the best green witch anyone had ever seen while Joel did his in rainbow.

Seriously. How many rainbow witches have you ever seen?

Matt's perfectly green witch lost; Joel's multi-colored dream witch won. Matt's still a little bitter, so when Jax turned in his ROYGBIV pumpkin, we laughed at how ironic it would be if he won.

Which he did.

Oh, my Em. She thought she had it in the bag. She was devastated when we had to tell her that she didn't win this time. Poor girl burst into tears. Jax could have cared less if he won or lost. But he did win, so we were going to celebrate. Em learned the hard lesson that she's not always going to win and that it's okay to be sad about it. For a moment. While she had a cry fest, Jax and I comforted her with hugs. Matt comforted her with stories of his own loss to his little brother and how losing is a part of life. As a high school and college athlete, he knew this well. For once, we totally nailed this parenting speech. Whether or not her five-year old self would agree, I'm not sure, but the day ended with smiles as we came up with a Jaxie Won! dance and went to pick up his prize pumpkin.

I wonder if Em will remember this moment like her daddy did? Will it change how she thinks next time she loses? Will she be more inclined to celebrate with the winner? I hope so. I love that she'll have plenty of opportunities to learn this though. Not that I want my daughter to lose. Of course I want her to win, but more than that, I want her to know that it's not the most important thing. I want her to genuinely be able to celebrate someone else's victory without dwelling on her own loss. On the other hand, I hope that I'm a mom that understands and is able to love her well when she can't get passed those ugly feelings. Those days will come, too. More than anything, I want them to know without a shadow of a doubt that they are completely loved right where they are.


meg said...

such a great (although hard!) lesson to teach our kiddos. kudos to you guys for helping her learn to lose gracefully and to be excited for those who win...even if its her little brother!! too many parents these days try to shelter their kids from experiencing any pain, or realizing that they're anything less than the best, which sets them up for a lifetime of disappointment, as well as faulty character. emma is going to be a better woman in twenty years for learning this lesson AND having the parents to teach her :) good job, mama!

Kelly Green said...

Thanks, Meg. :) I hope so! It's a weird balancing act- trying to figure out what to tell our kids and what not to. This is a little different but we were listening to something on the radio on the ride to school this morning and I wasn't sure whether I should turn it off or not. It was just a clip of Francis Chan talking at Passion about a guy that he knew that was killed...I kept it on and looked back and Em said, "Mommy, that's really sad. It almost made me cry." The whole thing was about the hope we have and we got to talk about that a bit. There's just so many different scenarios where we have the opportunity to just skim over or ignore or instead, we can have really good conversations with our kids. Not that we get it right all the time- that is for sure, but if nothing else, I hope our kids know we are always up for having difficult conversations with them. :)