Losing the Election – Sometimes My Kids Are Going to Fail

mayorLooking out our front window I could see it in his body language. His shoulders slumped, head down, bottom lip downturned. He walked slowly from the neighbor’s to our yard, dragging his feet. I could tell I was not going to be welcoming a new fourth grade class mayor into our home that day.

Before he even opened his mouth I knew the election did not go in his favor. He was finally home from school and I finally knew the result. I had been on edge all day wondering how things would go.

He had his heart set on running the town. For days he researched famous quotes on equality and doing good for his campaign speech. He dreamed up new laws and a new town name – Pesce (Italian for fish.) He campaigned at recess, talking to his friends about why they should vote for him.

But when election day came things did not go in his favor. It was extremely close – with only 12 students in his class to vote there was a three-way tie for the mayoral seat. The dozen students voted three times. Still tied. So my son’s teacher let the class vote for two students for one final round. That’s when another student pulled ahead and won.

And my 9-year-old felt the impact of disappointment.

I tried to hug him as he sat on our couch, tears streaming down his cheeks. But he pushed me away – he didn’t want to be comforted.

In the end I convinced him to come with me to the dollar store to pick out a prize for all his efforts in the race. He settled on a two-pack of yo-yos.

I gave him the I-am-so-proud-of-you speech and told him over and over again that he did the best he could.

But in the morning when it was time to face his unsuccessful race again he didn’t want anything to do with it. He curled up in the covers of his bed and claimed he wasn’t going to school.

I get it. This race was his whole world right now. All he could see in the near future was his class fabricating a fake town with mailmen, journalists, council members, and a mayor. He has to face the town and his fellow students day in and day out for the next month or so while they learn about government, work responsibility, how to manage a business, etc.

And oh how my heart aches for him.

My mind flashed back to dark days in my life when I too didn’t want to get out of bed. Times when it seemed like my world was over.

Ironically, during one of my darkest times that sweet little non-mayor was the one who drug me from bed. He and his 7-year-old brother were the only two reasons I got out of bed for many, many days after I delivered their brother Luca stillborn.

My world was crashing down around me but they were there keeping me going.

And so I have to be there to keep him going.

I tugged the blankets down from his face and pulled him from his bed. He didn’t like it, and I had to be stern, but he did it. I hugged him and told him he had to go.

I half wondered if he would run away and hide behind a bush in the back corner of the school’s playground after I dropped him off – I actually called the school to make sure he checked into class.

He went to school all day even though he didn’t want to.

So many times we have to keep going even when we don’t want to. I don’t know exactly how to teach my children that. Especially when my heart aches for them and I know how it feels to want to give up.

But I can’t let them. I want to teach them that it’s all right to feel sad and down about disappointments. But we have to keep going.

And I’ll be there for them when they get up and face their hardest days. Just like they were there for some of mine.

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