Thursday, June 5, 2014

F is for field day.

Summer has already gotten kind of busy on us (swim lessons and camp and fun, oh my!) so this post is a bit of a throw back to the end of the school year...

The Tuesday tutorial Liam goes to has an annual end-of-the-year field day. Last year, we signed up but at the last minute, Liam decided not to go. I wasn't sure at the time if Liam wanted to skip it because he didn't want to wake up and get going or if he still had unresolved psychological damage from field day in kindergarten.

Because if you're sort of an indoor kid who would prefer just about anything to, say, soccer, field day might not be the most fun-filled day of the year.

Especially if your best buddy you chose to pair up with is in it to win it. And every single event is a competition.

It was a blood bath. If it hadn't been such a public display of Liam LOSING time after time, he might have found the whole thing laughable. But when you're on the line like that - one winner, one loser - and you keep coming up behind, it's hard not to feel like, well, a loser. Even if you honestly don't give a lick about the dang three-legged race.

Anyway. This year we signed up for field day and actually went. I had all but forgotten about the kindergarten debacle but as soon as the games kicked off and Liam dropped his water balloon, I was flooded with a wave of nostalgia.

Here he is doing the wheelbarrow race...

(His buddy was trying to get him to budge but it just wasn't happening.)

And the sack race...

(He's the one in blue going the wrong way.)

Poor guy. He's more of a mathlete than an athlete, so anything that involved the word race ended with him in last place.

Even though he was obviously not doing well, it didn't seem to be bothering him much at all. When we broke for Popsicles, he was in great spirits, having a blast with his friends and being super sweet to Finn (he took him up to get popcorn and reminded him to say 'thank you' when he got his bag). Even his friend (who was equally as athletic and competitive as Liam - woohoo!) seemed to be happy with their less than stellar results. I thought there was nothing that could bring him down.

But there was one thing I didn't take into account. The ribbons.

Liam was awarded one for participation (which seemed appropriate...generous even), but lots of other kids were flaunting whole collections of ribbons. He wanted more. At least two to pin together! He had his eyes on a third place for lawn bowling but when someone edged him out, he really felt the blow.

It was the last event of the day and when I walked over to get him, he was fighting back angry tears. "Why did those other kids have to be so good?" he growled. "I thought bowling was one event I could actually win. I'm good at bowling! Why'd they have to be good at that too?!"

I patted his shoulder, made him pose for a last-day-of-school, look-how-much-fun-I'm-having-at-field-day-picture with his friend and held his hand as we walked to the car.

On the drive home I tried my best to assure him that we're all good at different things and that just because he didn't win any ribbons at field day doesn't mean he's not great at other things. Just maybe not field day things.

Which, I mean, in the grand scheme of things...being bad at field day is SO not a big deal. There are very few people who are lucky enough to make a living at FIELD DAY, you know?


But he kept coming back to that darn 3rd place ribbon. He wanted it SO BAD! It reminded me of the junk counter at Chuck E. Cheese. No one really wants a Chinese finger trap or cheap plastic top, but when you're 10 tickets away from having one of your very own, you'd trade in your left foot if they'd take it.

A few nights later, after his last class of the school year, we had a little end of the year celebration. A Little Caesar's pizza, his very own Coke, The Lego Movie and an awards ceremony.

We each presented Liam with a ribbon we had made for him. Each was what we thought he had excelled at in 2nd grade. I gave him, "Most Creative, Adaptable and Fun To Be Around." Bill gave him, "Best Friend and Leader + Most Creative (Artist, Game, Planner)." And Finn gave him, "Best Drawer and Best at Playing."

Liam was surprised and very touched. With the sentiment, yes, but mostly with the ribbons. He added them to his ribbon collection (the one he got on field day plus one that Grandmama gave him several years ago) and proudly pinned it to his shirt just like the kids at school had done. All night long he held his head a little higher.

We've all told him a million times how wonderful he is. But this was the first time we thought to make ribbons to go with it. Who could have known what a difference a little ribbon would make?

The next day, Bill made one for Finn. "Most Thoughtful of Others." Finn was so proud, he wore it to our neighbor's backyard party. And since then, he's worn it a lot.

I got one, too. "Most Thoughtful Wife and Mother." Suddenly I understood what all the fuss was about.

Ribbons rule.

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