On the last night of Bug Camp, there was an awards ceremony. Points were given out for accomplishing certain tasks during the week. A lot of them were hard, like memorizing certain things. We had worked with the boys a little, but I wasn’t expecting much because they aren’t quite literate and their group had a lot of big 6 year olds in it. It was hard to compete.
Well, wouldn’t you know! When the announcer got to their class, the twins tied for third place! They got an honorable mention and everyone clapped for them. But, they did not get a prize. Only second and first places got prizes. Peter was okay with this, but Robert was absolutely crushed. He was lusting after those little canvas tote bags filled with insect-related Dollar Store toys. He showed how upset he was by pouting for the rest of the evening and going to the car instead of having refreshments with everyone else.
When it was finally time to go, I told Robert I was proud of him for doing such a good job and he grumbled that he wanted the prize bag.
“Well, Robert,’ I said. “You aren’t always going to win. Today you DID win. You weren’t last. You got an honorable mention. Everyone clapped for you and I was so proud. I didn’t think you would have gotten so many points against all those older kids. You guys did great! No, you didn’t get a bag. You won’t always get rewards for a good job. Knowing you did a good job sometimes has to be enough.”
Robert burst in to tears. If this would have been a movie, however, my children would have given me the slow clap and I would have visions of Oscars floating in my head.
Not a movie.
Robert sobbed all the way home. And I was having the internal Mother’s Dilemma. This is a lesson Robert has to learn. He needs to know how to win and lose graciously. He needs to learn that he isn’t always going to get a prize for his good deeds. It is My Job to help him learn this. But at the same time, it’s hard to watch your child get heartbroken over anything. It was so tempting to take the easy way out and take him out for ice cream or make him a gold metal and call him MY winner. But, what is that helping? It’s making me feel better, but I am doing him an incredible disservice.
So, we drove home in silence that was punctuated with Robert’s sniffles.
I gave him another hug before bed and told him again that win or lose, he is a great kid and I will always love him. If nothing else, I hope he learns that lesson quickly.