Disappointment and Pain

Boy #3 had a hard day. Since we moved here, he has impressed everyone with his math skills. He’s done well on all the standardized testing and gotten straight As. Last year he even won a trophy at the math competition for second place in the mental math category. He was really eager to compete again.

His favorite math teacher from last year left the school. The new teacher didn’t prioritize the math team over the academic challenge team (he’s on both) and they barely practiced, he was put in the geometry category which he wasn’t excited about, and everything just felt off this year.

Today was the math olympics. When they announced the winners, we all were shocked to learn that he did not place high enough for a trophy or ribbon. From across the huge gym, we could tell that he was upset. He was very obviously crying and struggling. What happened next was the most impressive thing, more impressive perhaps that actually winning.

  1. His buddy immediately started comforting him.
  2. Someone that he just met today from another school in his district comforted him.
  3. He cheered his friends on in the following categories.
  4. He smiled and laughed again.
  5. He heard everything I said to him which was that no trophy, ribbon, or prize could make me any more proud of him than I was right now.
  6. He’s ready to fight again next year. He does not want to give up.

Boy #3 hasn’t faced a lot of adversity like this, especially with school stuff. Success has always seemed to find him no matter what. But I can see that he is learning from this, he has to find the drive to keep trying no matter what. He is facing down disappointment and he will come out stronger because of it.

I almost think he needed this pain and disappointment to learn how to regroup and move past a loss. It seems strange to celebrate a lack of success, but I think this moment is where we see what he’s truly made of. Life is so much easier when you just keep winning. It’s great riding high on top. The real struggle is when you have to do your time down low and you pull yourself back up to the top. Then you can appreciate the success you are having and the losses, while they do sting, don’t take you out of the game completely.

I am so proud of my non-ribbon carrying, non-trophying toting boy. Next year he will work harder and do even better. I know he can do it.

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