Winning is way better than losing, although you aren't supposed to say that. You're supposed to believe that, "it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game," or so I was told all through childhood. Bullshit. Winning is way better than losing and it does matter.
I got to watch my oldest win his first trophy today and I wept, because I am a big wuss. I was so proud of him. Would I have been just as proud if he lost? Honestly, no.
Here's why: He entered a competition for something he wasn't particularly good at, and for the first time in three years he worked really hard at it. He spent hours working on his project on his own. We went over the grading criteria and looked at areas he could put extra effort in to make up for his lack of skill in other areas. I knew he didn't have as much creativity or skill as some of his competitors, but he really tried. He went out of his way to help a teammate who was struggling and worked diligently without getting visibly frustrated for over an hour and a half and did I mention he is only seven?
When the judging was over, everyone wanted or had to leave before the awards were announced, but my kid refused. He believed in his team. He wouldn't budge, even when I was pretty sure someone else was going to win. He had faith that even if they didn't win, they would be contenders.
They called his team name out for third place in his division and he was the only one there to accept the trophy. My shy kid who hates crowds and chaos pushed through a crowd of big kids on his own and walked on stage to accept on behalf of his team.
He had done it. His team really had done it, but he was a part of that team and done his fair share to earn it. He played to his strengths - effort, teamwork, and telling me, "Please don't talk to the judges, Mama!" as I have had a tendency to talk too much and may have gotten told to be quiet and sit down in the past. OK, every time we competed previously the judges sent me to the penalty box. So maybe I get some points for keeping my big mouth shut. (If you had any idea how hard that is for me, you'd give me a freaking medal.)
Tiny Pants also contributed, by staying quiet and sitting on a chair for nearly three hours without complaining. He only cracked a little when his brother got a medal and he didn't. I was amazed at how non-demanding he was.
They came in third, not first, but it was the best we have ever done. They and got medals and a team trophy. I don't think I could have been prouder if he had won 1st place. Did I mention I cried? Yes, I think I did.
We don't get to keep the trophy- it goes to the school - and even though it will never have the names of our team members etched in it, I'm still proud of something unexpected. I feel like we gave honor to our school by winning, and we added to the prestige of the institution. OK, that sounds so grandiose I want to puke writing it, but it's true. I feel like our little trophy helped, even though it will be dwarfed by Best-in-Show trophies, and First Place trophies and People's Choice trophies won by other students. We did our best, we got rewarded, and added to the trophy case.
Next year will I care if he wins? Probably not. I realize that there are a lot of factors that go into winning a judged event, and sometimes you lose for reasons totally out of your control. But I was surprised at how good it felt to win.