Yesterday I called my parents to see how the boys were doing, and Jalen couldn’t wait to get on the phone. “Mommy,” he said excitedly. “Guess what? I got second place for my STEM project!”
And the first thing I almost said – the sentence had already formed in my brain, but I somehow stopped myself from actually saying the words – was, “Who came first?”
As a parent, I have this awful tendency sometimes to be so competitive. Is it natural – a part of the parental DNA that automatically exists, like being able to identify your child’s cry over the wails of three toddlers? Or is it something we are taught or learn?
Jalen got second place in the 1st grade STEM fair. In 2nd grade, he assumed that would just “happen” again, and he spent no time understanding his experiment or practicing his presentation. He was devastated when he came home that evening. I explained to him that doing well in 1st grade didn’t automatically translate into doing well in 2nd grade – he had to put in the work.
So he put in the work for 3rd grade – picked out his project himself, reminded us about due dates, excitedly did his experiment, carefully drew his line graph – with different colored pencils, mind you. And he was rewarded for his hard work!!! 2nd place! He was soooooo excited.
Had God not shut my mouth, I would have RUINED the experience: worrying about first place, and ignoring my child’s fantastic accomplishment!
word count: 249