Third place

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I remember when my nephew was young, young enough to still accept hugs from me and his mom. Young enough to be cute, and young enough to not have the worries that he now has as a soon-to-be 18 year old. He was playing soft ball and his team lost. This happens. There is almost a winner and a loser. Such is life. After the game the coach called his team up to the center of the field to accept their medals. He questioned this. “Why?” he asked. The coach gave him some stupid comment about everyone being a winner. My nephew walked off the field yelling that he lost, and therefore should not receive the medal. This cause some consternation among the coach and some parents, however my sister was rather proud of him, as was I.

This particular incident has stayed with me now that I have my own child. She is 6. My nephew went to as school in the US, and my daughter is in a British school. The systems are very different. I am quickly realizing that in the British system not everyone is a winner. Not everyone gets a prize, and sometimes you come in last. But that is ok. You pick yourself up and find your way. Of course it is not perfect – that would be ridiculous. There is no such thing. And as every kid is different, different school systems are better (or worse) for different kids. But I am quickly realizing that my daughter is currently thriving in the British system. She learning a considerable amount. Sure, it might rigorous at times (I certainly was not learning how to write cursive at 5 years old…) but it works for her.

Last week she had Sports Day. There were about 6 different activities in which the kids participated from Years 1 & 2. This activities included a pirate game, an obstacle course, and a sprint. I hated sprinting. HATED.IT. I was terrible at it in school, which is probably why I hated it. When I got older I loved exercising (I still do) and I ended up running a marathon and several 10ks. But when I was young and in school sprinting and I were great enemies. My daughter is an exceptional sprinter. I found this out last week. She has long lean legs. She is a fierce runner, and enjoys it. She loves the competition, and just goes with it. There were several heats during the races, and she won. She won first place in one of them. I was, well, shocked, and of course beaming with pride. I have a strong competitive edge when it comes to my daughter.

The fastest girls from each class then ran against each other. My daughter made it into the final race. She came in third. Third place. Not first, not second, but third. And I was ok with this. Not all of the kids won. She got a certificate indicating that she came in third place – as it should. I realized how proud I was at her for running. For placing, and I was not particularly worried that she didn’t come in first. Would it have been great? Sure. It would have, but I will not be one of those parents who insists that my daughter is the best at everything. What is most important is that she feels valued at what she does and confident. She will win and she will lose. But throughout it all she will be supported by her number one fan. Her mother: no matter what place she comes in.

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