I have never been a huge fan of the participation trophy; the trophy that means you showed up and gave the required amount of effort. Nothing more, nothing less. The trophy that proclaims you produced just enough sweat to get the prize, but not enough to excel or be stretched beyond yourself.
I have four children. All of my kids differ in personality and natural ability. I have one who works hard in everything he does, but often comes in last. He smiles. He is a joy. He encourages others. When he was recognized as the “Heart of the Team” …he deserved it. He earned it.
I have another child who has more natural ability. Often, his attitude is atrocious. I have to argue with him to attend practice. I have to fight with him to sweat just a little more. He gives up easy. He underachieves. I believe with maturity, he will tap into his ability and excel. As a parent, I can only externally motivate him so much. He doesn’t put in the effort. Often, he does not receive an award or trophy. He has the ability, but not the grit or determination to improve. Both Philip and I could be described as “Late Bloomers.” We really shouldn’t be surprised we have a child that just wants to be the life of the party and putting forth extra effort may distract from this goal.
But, what do you do when you have a child who works hard and struggles? A child who wants to be great, but genuinely cannot do the work? Or get the stroke? Or move to the beat?
This morning, I felt my first pang of resistance to the “Not everyone gets a trophy” revolt. I support it. I agree with it, but it hurts my mother’s heart.
My daughter is struggling in school. It has been a hard year and she is well aware of the fact that she is not up to speed with the other children. She is self-conscious about her deficiency. It is hard to watch because I want so much more for her. When you adopt a child, who has experienced a lot of pain, there is this overwhelming drive to protect them from further heartache. I feel like she has already come through tough things and I don’t want her to hurt at all.
A participation trophy isn’t going to change the fact that she is going to have to work harder. Maybe if she doesn’t get an award for just showing up, next year she will resist less and work with me more? I can’t believe for a moment that Jesus saved this child just so she can forever struggle to move forward.
I have to get my own heart in check. I want her to grow. I want her to be fierce. I want her to overcome the odds, BUT I ALSO WANT HER TO GET A TROPHY.
I told her this morning I would not be at her Award’s Lunch today. She didn’t fully understand why I was going to be with Lincoln and not her. I told her that Lincoln was getting an award so I needed to be there for him. She was upset and I totally understood why. I talked with Philip about how much I hate that it is hard for her and how I just want her to get an award, but she didn’t earn it. She doesn’t deserve it.
It would make it easier for her. It would make it easier for me. Deep down I know God has something amazing for this child and it is going to require work. It is going to require determination. It is going to require grit. A participation trophy will only threaten all these things from developing in my little miracle of a daughter.
I want her to get a trophy, but I want it to mean something. I want her to earn it. I believe in her. I believe in Jesus and His ability to continue to heal the broken places. Whether she is the Heart of the Team, MVP, or a High Academic Achiever, I am believing for great things.
For today, our conversation ended positively when I told her how much she learned this year and how much she will grow over the summer reading with me every day. I do believe she rolled her eyes when I said this. I pretended not to notice. I also then told her how excited I was that I was going to spend all day with her at school tomorrow for water day and how much fun we were going to have together.
Maybe next year will be our trophy year, but if not, we will continue to make memories together that will validate her worth, without stealing the drive and determination she will need to succeed in her future.
Adoption is by far the hardest and the best thing Philip and I have ever done. There isn't a rule book on how to handle children who were never meant to experience pain. Every day is a new experience and a new truth. I am forever leaning and trusting in God to give me wisdom to be the mom this little girl needs.
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.