Trophies and Ribbons

Monday, April 17, 2017

I am not a mom who believes that everyone should get a trophy. Not everyone deserves a trophy or a ribbon. Do you know how you earn a trophy or a ribbon? You work hard and win. That's how you earn a trophy. There is only one World Series Champion, only one NCAA Men's Basketball Champion, only one Super Bowl Champion. See a pattern here?  So why do we insist that children get a trophy just for participating? We are giving our children a false impression that there is no need to work hard because you get a trophy no matter what. We are setting our children up for instant failure!  

The first year McKinley "earned" a trophy was in 2015 and I was still a little leery of giving it to him. They didn't even get it from their coach. Their last game was rained out, and as a result, the parents had to go and pick them up. Not really a way to receive it, right? So Joel brings it home, McKinley takes one look at it and says, "I thought it would be bigger." A little ungrateful and yet another reason kids don't need a participant trophy. They don't even respect it. In 2016, we missed the last game, for a reason I can't even remember, and we never received McKinley's trophy and he never even asked about it. Best thing that ever happened! 

We haven't really had to worry about the trophy/ribbon issue since last summer, that is until McKinley decided he wanted to sign up for the district tournament stacking challenge last Thursday. They learned about stacking in PE this month, and when the flyer came home, McKinley told me he really wanted to participate. He thought it was fun and wanted to try. How could I say no? I'm not going to tell my child he can't do something, even if he had just learned how. I want him to know he can do anything. But at the same time, I was so nervous for him because he wasn't skilled at stacking. And we didn't have cups. And I didn't even know you could buy cups! Lots to learn about stacking.

So when Thursday rolled around, McKinley started to grow nervous. He even went so far as to tell me he didn't want to go because he was so worried about all the people that would be looking at him. I told him that there was no reason to be worried and that no one was really going to be watching because they would be so busy watching their own children. Still, the nerves were evident that night as he clung to me and never let me leave his side. He practiced and I was shocked at watching him do his thing. He wasn't super fast, but he was patient and in the zone as he stacked and un-stacked his cups. So awesome to watch your kid work at something they have set their minds to, right?

Then it was time to compete. He didn't know about the stop watch aspect, and some really sweet older boys showed him how it worked. He only needed to be shown once. He had this! And then it was his turn. Three tries to get your best time and boy did he concentrate! And they weren't great times, but that's not what mattered. He had fun, he worked hard, and he accomplished his goal of competing. And that's how you earn a trophy or ribbon. 


During the ribbon ceremony, they had all six and under contestants come up on stage. There were 15 participants and only 12 ribbons. Each child did earn a participant ribbon, but only 12 children received ribbons for their best times. McKinley was not one of them. As he came off stage to join us, there were tears. They didn't roll down his face, and he didn't cry in front of the crowd, but I saw those crocodile size tears and I knew. I knew that he was sad because he didn't get a ribbon and he asked why. And I simply said, because their times were better than yours. And that's the truth. I'm not going to lie to him. I told him that he if wanted a ribbon like theirs, he needed to practice and then came back next year and earn one! And that's all he needed. The tears were gone.

Later that night as I tucked him in, he asked me if his ribbon meant anything. I told him that it did. It meant that he tried. That he had the courage to sign up, being the only student from his Kindergarten class, and do something he had never done before. That he had enough confidence in himself to compete among others that have been stacking for awhile. And that most importantly, he had fun. Because if you can't have fun, why do it?

So we are planning to purchase cups so he can continue to practice. Who knows if this will be a real thing for him in the future, but he is going to know that we fully support him in anything he wants to do. And, that we are going to help him become the best he can be, because he's going to earn that trophy or ribbon with hard work and practice. Always practice!


No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

electric toothbrush