Winning and Losing

thinking kidsIt’s been a bit of a roller coaster here at the rowhouse.  There were two big trials of skills for the boys in the last week.

First, they had their Destination Imagination tournament.  This is their fifth year doing Destination Imagination.  They’ve moved up from the young Rising Stars program to the competitive division.  Last year, they won their regional tournament and did incredibly well at states, placing fifth out of nearly thirty teams.  I have often promoted the goals of Destination Imagination here.  I think it’s an amazing program and perfect for homeschoolers.  We are really full on DI-geeks at this point.  My boys have DI pins ready to trade and designed awesome DI T-shirts this year.  DI teaches creativity and cooperation and perseverance.    But, alas.  They nailed their instant challenge, but didn’t do well on their central challenge and won’t be going on to states.  The competition was tougher this year with more teams and they picked a different, perhaps more difficult, challenge.  After the tournament, both the boys were in tears and trying very hard to be strong, but they were deeply disappointed.  The team worked hard and did well, just not well enough.

Second, the boys took the National Mythology Exam for the first time.  We’ve never prepared for a test like this one.  It felt like helping two fourth graders prep for a very mini version of an AP exam.  Memorizing names and details has never been either boy’s strong suit.  They’re more big picture kids who can pull out great connections between stories and put things in order, but without remembering the specifics.  This test wasn’t really made for them, so I knew we’d need to work at it.  We read the first half of the D’Aulaires’ Greek Mythology more than once, played quiz games, made flash cards, made posters, made Toontastic animations, practiced narrations, and drilled for this.  I knew we had prepared, but I wasn’t sure they would pass.  Mushroom has a lot of test anxiety and neither boy has a lot of experience with the sort of multiple choice questions on the test.  However, when they sat down to take the exam and bubble in their scantron sheets, they had so much focus and determination.  We won’t know the official results for a couple of months, but from my informally checking their tests, I’m almost positive they both won medals.  I think Mushroom, who really struggled at times with studying, managed to win gold.  Fingers crossed, but it was definitely a win.

It’s so difficult to see your child lose when they worked hard at something.  I think it was as hard on me as it was on them.  I hope this experience doesn’t turn them off of DI, which I know they love.  And I hope it’s a learning experience.  They got a lot out of the process.  And while it’s painful, I hope they learn from losing.  I hope it makes them hungry to work harder and try again.

As for acing the mythology exam, I hope it’s gratifying to them that their hard work paid off.  I hope they learn that when you study and focus, you can meet a difficult challenge.

2 thoughts on “Winning and Losing

  1. Farrar, I know that everyone cannot win every time as I am sure you do also. One of the things I always stressed with my kids was that “winning” and “fair” was not always realistic. If you want to teach them about life, then one does not always win and life is not always fair. Learning this will make them much more well rounded adults and able to handle failure as well as value success. When they work hard and do their best, that is all we can ask. There is much to be learned from loosing and since neither won the DI competition, they can hopefully console each other. I think it is amazing that they have probably done so well on the mythology test. I can only imagine how much memorization it must have taken. Please tell them their great aunt Carolyn is very proud of both of them. Thanks for sharing your blog. I really enjoy reading it.

    1. Thanks, Aunt Carolyn! I totally agree. I think you can’t always win and once I was over my own coaching disappointment, I was sort of glad that they’ll have this experience of dealing with losing. Tears are okay as long as we can move on and we seem to have! They are already talking about next year. So, whew!

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