Second Best

I know, I know…nobody tries for second place. We give our all, we put it all on the line and we go for the win. We often tell our kids that they can do anything that they put their minds to. Until they tell us that when they grow up, they want to be a giraffe. Then we have to backtrack. Now they can do almost anything. But even that isn’t always necessarily all the way accurate either, is it? At this point in my life, I’m pretty certain that I’m not going to marry Leonardo DiCaprio like I planned to way back in 1999 in the height of Titanic fever. Based on the fact that I’m well into my 30s, it’s safe to say I’m not going to win an Oscar for best screenplay before the age of 29. So either somebody lied to me, or I misunderstood the memo.

Can I really do anything?? Anything at all??

I remember watching a war movie several years ago, and before the battle began, one general prayed that God would save his army and help them destroy the enemy. He joked that the other side was probably praying for the exact same thing, but could God kindly disregard their prayers and answer his own or something along those lines.

There are situations where there has to be a clear winner, where it has nothing to do with anyone’s opinion. Somebody was faster than everyone else. Somebody got more answers right than everyone else. Even when it’s all about opinion, for example, who sings the best, who made the prettiest dress, who took the best pictures, beauty pageants etc. Everybody can’t be the best at every single thing. And that needs to be okay with us and our children. I don’t support the practice of rewarding everybody for participating. It needs to be okay to go home empty-handed. Nobody ever died from not getting a prize for not winning!

The truth is, I can’t do anything I want to do, at least not very well. I trip over my own feet when I’m standing in one spot so walking a catwalk in 8-inch heels is probably not my ministry. If you can’t hold a single note, nobody is saying you shouldn’t sing…but you’re just not going to be on Aretha Franklin’s level. And that’s okay.

Teach your kids to do their best, but also teach them to celebrate with the winner, whether that winner is them or someone else. Not necessarily to pretend they’re not disappointed, but more to realize that their entire worth as a human being is not tied to some gold medal or award. As much as they want to win, someone else’s child wants to win too. At the end of the day, someone is going to be disappointed, but they should feel disappointed but still loved; disappointed but still important; disappointed but still proud of giving it their best shot.

Disappointed but never, ever a disappointment. They lost, but they’re never a loser.

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