This weekend, we attended our very first Blue & Gold banquet. It was a Boy Scout event celebrating the Boy Scout birthday, and our pack used the opportunity to give awards for the Pinewood Derby, host a lunch, and have a cake decorating contest (which my little sister won!).
Besides being massively uncomfortable in real clothes and a dress at nearly 7 months pregnant, and panicking about the unsafe food everywhere (M&Ms on the tables, hot dog buns J couldn’t have) we actually had a pretty good time.
I knew coming in that J had placed 4th for the Pinewood Derby. This being J’s first competition, I wanted to prepare him so that he would know how to be a good sport even if he wasn’t recognized. What I didn’t know was the pack policy on awards. Would everyone get some kind of recognition? Would there be “honorable mention” ribbons or superlative prizes for most original, etc.
Well, it ended up that pack policy was only to give trophies to the top 3 cars in each age group. Maybe this isn’t a popular position, but I was really glad that it wasn’t an event where everybody got something. Yes, some kids were disappointed. Yes, a few reacted poorly. But for the most part, the kids handled a real-life lesson with grace and good sportsmanship.
After the awards were announced, J turned to me and said, “So, I didn’t get a trophy?”
I responded, “No, but you did place 4th and that was a really great job.”
Then he made me really proud by saying, “Yeah, but at least we had fun that day, and it was fun building it.”
And that was it.
He clapped for his friends. He congratulated winners. He didn’t break. He didn’t cry. He will not require therapy.
More than anything, I was happy to have the moment to say to my son, “Not everyone gets an award or recognition every time. That doesn’t mean you don’t try your hardest. It doesn’t mean you hold a grudge against the winners. It doesn’t mean you pout and throw a fit and demand your award.” I was even happier that I didn’t have to say any of that. The award ceremony said it all for me.
So, kudos to my pack leaders for taking a path that doesn’t seem to be too popular these days. And, kudos to J for handling it with maturity and grace that surprised me for his age.
Where do you stand on the issue? Would you want every participant to place? How have you handled this with your kids? I would love to hear from you!