‘Cause all I do is win win win….
That’s what the song says…and it’s been stuck in my head for days. Except…no. That’s not all I do. And, from where I’m standing, that’s not how life works at all.
Come and peruse my Facebook feed, will you? There are some high-achieving children in my world. Tremendous athletes, brilliant young minds…kids spending weeks and months traveling to far flung locales to help install solar panels and water purification systems and fix houses. Once in a while, it’s one of mine with a trophy or a medal or some kind of award. But most days, it’s not.
I was having a pretty in depth conversation with one of my favorite 5 year olds yesterday. He filled me in on the books he’s read since I saw him last week and we bonded a little bit over some snowball target practice. (I don’t want to brag…and I know it was “just for fun”…but I beat him. 😉 )And then he told me that his sister wouldn’t win the race she was competing in. She can’t. He said. Emma’s here. She’ll win. She always does.
No one always wins. We talked about that for a bit. How lots of kids work really hard, but only 1 wins. How it can be tough to work that hard and still not get what you want. And how sometimes it doesn’t seem fair. I tried to tell him that no one always wins…but our perspectives are a little bit different. At just-turned-5 years old, he doesn’t remember last season. This season is ‘always’.
He was right though. His sister didn’t win…and “Emma” did. His sister, by the way, is a gifted competitor. She’s used to winning. I could see how badly she wanted it – I could practically taste it – but yesterday wasn’t her day.
And then I turned around, and I watched the rest of the athletes come in. I saw grit and determination. I saw pain on some faces and utter exhaustion on others. I saw pride. The thing behind the winning is the work. The work, as my Grandpa used to say, is it’s own reward.
The thing those Facebook posts don’t show you is the backstory. The thing before the win. The nights spent studying, the sweat and the blisters, the mental toughness that comes out of pushing yourself further than you thought you could go. We don’t spend much time celebrating the work…which is kind of strange…because the work is the thing that matters.
I am proud of my kids when they win. It’s awesome and it’s exciting. I am prouder of the work that comes before. Come to my house and look for the trophies. You won’t find them. Each child has shelves in their rooms for them…and where are the trophies? Thrown in the back of the closets or used as convenient holders for hair elastics. I don’t know why…I’ve never asked. But I do know this: My girl did not win yesterday. She did come home with a giant smile on her face…having turned in her best time so far. “I’ve worked really hard this season,” she said “and I feel like it’s finally coming together!”.
As it turns out, the work is the win.