Do you remember the old intro for ABC's Wide World of Sports, where the ski jumper wipes out at the bottom of the ramp to fully demonstrate the announcer's words: "and the agony of defeat"? Agony, indeed! For years, I was unable to watch that clip without groaning out of empathy.
This week, I had similar reactions in my own life. Feel free to join me in groaning.
Our son was served up not one but two heapin' doses of "learning sportsmanship", while his daddy & I watched from the sideline, with worried looks and our nails bitten down to the quick.
The first lesson came on Friday when he was competing in the school spelling bee. Each class sent two representatives to go head-to-head with the rest of the cream-of-the-crop spellers in the school. It was nerve-wracking for Evan -- AND for us as we sat by helplessly, flashing him a shaky thumbs up whenever he looked our direction. It was a packed house, with the entire school body and camcorder-toting parents craning their necks for a glimpse of their favorite competitor.
The spellers went through a practice round intended to help calm their nerves. It would seem that strategy back-fired where Evan was concerned, as he got the spelling of his practice word wrong. I know that left him rattled. For the record, I don't know many 3rd grade boys who spell the word "canary" on a regular basis. Maybe Tweety Bird. And I personally feel that c-O-n-a-r-y is CLOSE ENOUGH! But then again, I'm a mercy girl.
The real competition then began and the tension in the room thickened. I was curled up under my metal folding chair, rocking in the fetal position when Evan stepped up to the mic. "Lord, help him to not be too scared. Lord, let a word like "cat" come forth out of the judge's mouth." I held my breath, and the word was NOT cat. "Evan, your word is: renovate". "Oh, does he know that word?" Perhaps he absorbed that word through osmosis when I was watching HGTV...... I won't keep you in suspense: He didn't. r-e-n-A-v-a-t-e. So close, but take a seat, kid.
My mommy heart welled up as I knew he was fighting tears as he exited the stage. Eliminated from the spelling bee on his first word. Ouch. It was a slight consolation that literally 3/4 of the spellers got knocked out on their very first word as well.
Evan had another bitter taste of defeat today at his very first "real" basketball game. He loves that game and is happy to spend hours shooting baskets. Today was the day he dreamt of dominating the court. Let's just say it didn't quite work out the way he had envisioned. There were these pesky guys called defenders who kept getting in the way!
And those guys in the stripes with the whistles were brutal! Frankly, I don't think they possess the gift of mercy when calling our team for travelling and double dribbling. Just because they travelled and double dribbled! It's 3rd grade basketball -- not the NBA!
Today's match-up resembled a Harlem globetrotters exhibition game. And we weren't on Meadowlark Lemon's team. But good news: I can spell the term correctly: m-a-s-s-a-c-r-e.
It's tough to learn these life lessons .... and just as tough to watch your kids go through it!