When your child “loses”


By Jae-Ha Kim
October 3, 2016

So, my son didn’t get selected to be on his school’s student council. He was disappointed, but not overly so.

I thought it would be a good experience for him to run, regardless of whether he was (or wasn’t) picked. Life isn’t about getting everything that you want, when you want it.

The children who wanted to run for a seat on the council turned in their speeches last week; and their teachers then read them aloud in class (but without revealing who wrote what, so that it wouldn’t turn into a popularity contest).

As we were walking home from school, I listened as some of the children voiced their opinions as to who should (and should not) have been elected. According to my chatty informants, one little girl’s older sister wrote her speech for her. Another boy’s father re-wrote his. Gleefully, they named names.

“How do you know this?” I asked. And the kids said that the winners told them so. (You have to love children’s honesty!)

Hearing this, my son looked ticked off at me. While I had helped him in correcting his spelling, I gave him free rein to work on his own platform (recycling and anti-bullying) and then had him write it up himself. After perusing his speech, I strongly suggested that he work on it some more.

“No, I’m good,” he said.

I’m not gonna lie. There was a big part of me that wanted to rewrite that sucker in a way that I knew would appeal to third graders. But, it wasn’t about me. I know he was disappointed that I wasn’t more helpful because, even at 8, he knows that having a really good professional writer* come up with his speech would give him an advantage over his less-connected competition. (*By the way, he thinks I’m a really good professional writer, because I tell him that I am. And often.?)

I asked him three things:

(1) Did he think his speech was the best? (No, but he still voted for himself. Atta boy! That‘s the Chicago way!)

(2) What were the other speeches about? (He didn’t remember.)

(3) Does he want to try running again next year? (Yes! After he worked through his irritation, he was genuinely happy for his friends who made it.)

No one should be defined by their loss … or win. It is my hope that he never loses this sense of confidence and camaraderie. And, I am truly grateful that he learned early on that just because you want something, it doesn’t mean that you are entitled to it.

@2016 Jae-Ha Kim | All Rights Reserved


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