Radley has been practicing for weeks for the annual UIL competition. He decided to try "music memory" this year which requires the participants to memorize clips of famous music, title and composer by sound. He worked so hard and even got Landry involved. He took practice tests, he kept getting better and better and finally the day before the competition he made a perfect score.
His coach was pumped!
We were all so excited and proud of him.
The day of the competition came and I could tell he was nervous. He wasn't hungry and he was very quiet - clearly something was wrong. I gave him my best, "we are proud of you no matter what" speech. I told him the only thing we wanted him to do was try his best and be proud of himself because that's the truth.
And so he did.
His goal was to be in the top six so he could get a prized ribbon. He felt really good about how he performed. So we made our way up to the awards ceremony that night with our biggest fans who were also competitors (but in different events).
His event was called to the stage. And he waited.
And waited for his name to be called.
And it wasn't. So he clapped and cheered for the others.
He put a smile on his face and came back to his seat where I hugged him close and much to his dismay, his sisters layered him with kisses. He was disappointed and that was the lesson.
Disappointment. We all know the feeling. We all have been the receiver and sometimes the giver of that emptiness that fills the pit of your stomach. I know this was a 3rd grade UIL competition that amounts to about as much as the pile of nail polish I scraped off my fingers this morning, but for this moment, that ribbon was everything. Accomplishment. Worthiness. Achievement. All of those are very real things and he wanted to feel them. Instead, he felt disappointment and there wasn't anything I could do for him. My lesson.
Let them feel. Let them hurt. Let them be what they need to be. Let them learn it now because later when it does matter, they will be prepared. Because as sad as I am for him, and as much as I wanted to fix "it"... I couldn't. I shouldn't. I won't.
These lessons on those not-so-big stages are gifts. They shape our kids. (And they continue to shape us.) They are the beginning of what comes next. They help them become who they are meant to be. From disappointment comes perseverance and tenacity. Within one minute of him sitting down and soaking in that defeat, he turned to me and said, "You know what, Mom? I bet I can place in number sense next year."
I bet you can, too, kid. I'll bet on you every single time in 100 different ways. Your spirit and determination. Your giving heart. Your kindness and generosity. I will bet on you.
And we'll all be right here next to you - every single one of you. Placing our bets and cheering you on. Because if life has taught me one thing - it is to know your people and love them well.
And you'll never be disappointed by that.