The thrill of third, the agony of the double hoop

I am not a coach. This piece of self-evaluation came to me during our foray into the Home School Olympics this week. And it became painfully more clear as I navigated my children through their combined 14 events, along with the throng of other young Olympians.

I'd rather be a photographer. Looking into my viewfinder is where I was when Giles ran his first event, 50 yard dash. When I popped my head out of the camera, I was a little surprised to see that he was the last one running. Is he last? Dead last? Oh dear. This will be bad. What my eye didn't catch in the sea of gray tshirts was Giles crashing a third of the way into the sprint. He picked the lane with the "hidden rut" where apparently many children throughout the day who were destined for blue ribbons ... instead crashed. So the "lessons" to be learned were "good sportsmanship" ... and handling public embarrassment!

This is where I wish I'd paid more attention to Remember the Titans or even The Bad News Bears for some great coaching advice. Somehow ... "you finished - that's great" .. or "better luck next time" or "win some lose some" just wasn't making it all better. I seriously was close to tears myself and just wanted to take him out for a big ice cream so we could cry together.

But he learned ... NOT to pick that lane. So the next event, the 100 yard hurdles ... he claimed a fifth place ribbon. Oh the relief. He is a player. He went on to grab a couple of more ribbons in green and yellow.

Meanwhile, the other two had not ribboned. Grant, being young, could be cajoled and encouraged by telling him he would get his ribbon at the end of all of his events. Since he is new to this scene, and can't read (hallelujah) ... he didn't catch the nuance of the shiny rainbow colored "participation" ribbon.

Then to Lovie. With each event and each no ribbon, whilst her buddies were ribboning, I knew her sweet little heart was sinking a little more. (In addition to the fact that we stayed up way too late the night before to watch the Idol final that we recorded). Cheer up. Cheer up. Your best events are coming ... jump rope and hula hoop. You are going to finish strong!

I must add here that some of her friends also didn't ribbon. But they had no tears (that we saw). Note to mom: emphasize more selflessness!

Five and a half hours later, we reached that final event. Hula Hooping. She has this. I know she does. Her tender emotional state is completely taken from her mother's genes. But hooping, mom could never do.

As she hoops, I'm praying and shooting video. Giles and Grant are cheering. She checks out the competition. More and more are going down. Finally there were four left, and this quad set could have hooped all day (I have the minutes of video to prove it). BUT NO. The organizer had the girls stop and announced they would DOUBLE hoop. Two? She's never doubled!

"You can do it."
"It's the same."

She lasted seven seconds (as per the video) and got a yellow third place ribbon. Funny, she was a big Syesha fan too.

The thrill of victory. The agony of doubles.

I contemplated how I was going to write this for a long time. Thought it would be funny and others would commiserate.

But really. We run the races. We finish. We try again.
While at it, we put others first and glorify God.
Easy. Nope. No one ever said it would be.

She's already planning for next year.

"Mom, I need another hula hoop. No, two more. I'm going to practice with three."


  1. DOUBLE HOOPS?!?!?! I am so sorry we missed that! Yippee on the ribbon, and it sounds like some great coaching to me..what a fun day.

  2. so fun! love all the pics!

  3. Oh, what sweet kids! If only for a second they could feel the pain we feel for them when they lose.