Last week, we took Luke up to the Tampa area for a regional fine arts competition. He participated last year as well, in the “serious interpretation” category. He received first place honors for his recitation of the Gettysburg Address. This year, he was asked to participate in the category of Poetry. He chose a serious, rather than humorous, poem, called The Hunting of the Dragon, by G.K. Chesterton. Practicing for a few months wasn’t always a happy venture, but he did so diligently. We knew he was capable of doing a great job, but we are most excited to see him do things like this for the ways it grows his courage, persistence, and confidence. If he was nervous before reciting his poem in front of the judges, fellow students, and families, he hid it well. He remembered all the words and spoke clearly and with inflection–and remembered to take his hands out of his pockets!
Vien wasn’t able to see Luke recite his poem in person because of work, but as I was recounting the morning to him once we were home, we agreed that even if he didn’t take first place, we were so glad he had been a part of this event. Vien went on to share with me that the fire was lit in him to do his best as a student when he didn’t get first place. Not that winning is everything, nor are we trying to instill that in our children, but we do want them to always live up to their potential. Sometimes a bit of disappointment can remind us to give that extra push when we’re working for something important to us.
I just read the results of the competition in an e-mail from school. One of Luke’s fellow second-graders got first place for their category, and having heard both her and Luke that morning, I would have given the edge to her as well. Luke doesn’t know the results yet, and I am curious as a mom to see what his response will be: will he take it in stride, will he be upset, will he want to try again next year if he is given an invitation? I remember after he missed a word in the middle of the state spelling bee last fall, he had some tears. They didn’t last long, though, and I also distinctly remember hearing him say, “I’m going to win next year”.
I pray that the desire to do his best will burn bright in his heart as he goes on. I pray that he grows in confidence, balanced by humility. I pray for many successes, and I also pray that disappointment leads to reflection and the wisdom to make any necessary changes. What a privilege it is as a parent to see one’s children try new things, stretch their limits, and discover their gifts!
Note: After I wrote this, I picked up Luke from school and told him the results of the competition. I told him his schoolmate had gotten first place, but that the judges had liked his selection and that his scores were still great. All he said was, “Oh…”, and when I asked him if he gets the chance to participate next year, would he do anything differently, he only said that he would choose a “lighter” poem. And, I’m confident he believed Vien and me when we reminded him of how proud of him we are for doing his best.