Brandishing the official Boy Scouts uniform on a stage in front of 400 students he was eloquent. The boy had his very adult speech typed and held in front of him. He paused just as we had practiced. My heart was full of joy for him in his strength and bravery. I surely did not have his courage and tenacity to run for student council when I was his age. Tears were welling in my eyes as I was that proud mom. So after the dust settled and the ballots were cast, counted, announced, my baby boy came home strong as an ox in his feelings. When I asked, he broke down in a heap and mess of tears. In that moment I was thankful he lost for student council.
Not that I was hoping my son would lose and that I wasn’t totally confident with him that he would win, but I knew with each outcome the result would be a lesson learned.
With the losing outcome I knew I had arrived as a parent, I had (have) done what every parent should instill in their children; an abundance of self worth, a bold self esteem and fearless adventure. His moment of loss was both our gain. No longer did my past and broken childhood haunt me to the degree it would carry over to my children. Watching G come home excited with his student council packet, eager to obtain his petitions, draft a speech and draw up election posters, seeing this enthusiasm let me know that I have empowered him enough to overcome fear.
His loss, while devastating to him was absolutely joyous to me. Not that I wished for his loss or hoped he would not be the winner, but I could teach him about humility, opportunity, and the greater plan He had in store for G. What I found beautiful and fascinating was that my son had no doubt he would win. His tenacity, his humble opinion of himself and naive view was so admirable. In his shining moment of excitement I thought about where I was in fifth grade, how I felt.
A great deal of pain washed over me as I recalled a painful time in my childhood filled with bullying, torment, an unhappy home life as my parents went through a bitter divorce. I dare not do something as bold as my son for fear of further bullying, ridicule and more torment. Coupled with a damaging home life that neither empowered or encouraged dreams and aspirations. I only wished to have had his self-esteem, his adventure and his courage.
Elation went cursing through my veins when I looked at G, beaming in his moment to make a difference in the world.
Often as parents we take our own insecurities and feelings of pain, torment, pitfall and failure and we transpose, deflect these feelings onto our children. We carry over the perpetual cycle of how we felt, what we learned from our parents, coping mechanisms and those become our children’s behaviors; they learn from us. Somehow grace intervened (along with great therapy some years before) and my son learned to be a strong young man with a beautiful self worth, confidence and an unbridled spirit to give generously to others. My past and will to have more for my children, to have what I didn’t as a child has driven a healthy environment for my children to thrive. G was my example of grace and achievement.
As he was a blubbering pile of tears I looked at him, smiling, so proud and asked him if he was the only other person running for student council. He shook his head and I asked him if maybe others felt just as he did. At that moment he face brightened a shade as he realized fellow friends were also experiencing this heartache. I asked him how he responded when he heard the news, this was the ultimate test of his emotional intelligence, that even as a woman pushing 40, I have moments of struggle. His response was that he congratulated the winner and shook hands with other fellow students that ran and lost as well.
Well done G man…well done. The emotional intelligence and maturity he displayed encouraged me as a parent. His loss let me know that we can raise our children in love, strength, encourage them to do anything to their hearts desire and provide them with the support, security, confidence that the loss does not define their identity. A loss where we both gained a win. Feeling achievement as a parent that I had overcome my haunting past and did not transfer these former insecurities and hurts onto my children. I was thankful he lost. I was thankful he learned powerful lessons in humility, identity, sportsmanship and hope for the upper story of what is next in our lives. Even though he lost, he won at life.