We stood in the playground for what seemed like eternity, when I took the plunge and asked how his day had gone. 'How has your day been?' I casually asked, trying not to visibly cringe as I waited for his disheartened response. Still looking down, he answered, 'Not so good' - and just as I was about to launch into my speech, he added - 'I only got voted in as Chair!' The toad!!
Looking pleased with himself after the elections :)
Pride began to rise up within me, quickly doing away with all the feelings of dread that had occupied my mind only seconds ago. My boy had done it.
As I walked back to the car listening to his account of the day, it dawned on me that I would have been just as proud of him had his response to my question been different. You see, his attitude towards the elections had, in my opinion, been exemplary. This is why ...
My son did not let his past experience dictate his actions this year.
Last year the votes went a different way and his attempt had not been a success. In fact, he didn't even make it through the first round and onto the council at all. He had tried, and failed. Actually, this is probably just how I had saw it. I think he would just say he tried. No failure. Isn't this a far better way of viewing it? How I wish I could see things this way! Unfortunately, I know that a negative outcome would swamp any enjoyment I may have had in the experience. I really need to learn that the joy is in the journey not the destination. Fear of failure still has too tight a grip on me.
Despite last year's outcome, he tried again this time. Simple lesson to learn here! Simple it might be but in my experience it is not so easy to put into practice. I refer you back to an earlier post in which I reflect on the wisdom of Chumbawamba (Tubthumping 1997) .. 'I get knocked down ... but I get up again!'
My son did it on his own!
After deciding to stand for election again this year, my son shut himself away in his room and wrote his speech. When he had completed his speech, he turned on his xbox and that was it. He didn't want my help. Gosh - this was difficult for me! I wanted to discuss it with him and offer advice. Wouldn't any Mum? Unable to just leave it, I went in and asked him how his speech writing had gone. Without taking his eyes off the screen he offered a very quick 'fine' and that was that! I picked up the bit of paper he had written on and started to read. I am ashamed to say that instead of just reading it, I began to tell him where I thought it could be improved. In my mind I was helping - in his mind though - I was interfering and being critical. His expression said it all. I felt awful. My reaction probably explains why, when he wrote his speech and prepared his Powerpoint for the Chair and Vice-Chair elections, he did it all at school and 'couldn't remember' what he had put when I asked him that evening! I don't blame him!
So, his achievement really was his own. Had he allowed me to interfere it wouldn't have been. I am pleased that he has confidence in his own ability. Good for him. Perhaps there is another lesson here for some of us. Maybe we need to believe we can do it; step out and trust in the abilities we have instead of leaning on others so much? Just a thought.
Of course, some of us need to learn to let go and let others a bit more too!
Throughout the campaign my son seemed to have only one concern: the others!
I don't think that this came out of an over inflated ego, but out of a genuine concern. He worried that any votes he may get would take something away from them. He always spoke favourably of the other pupils standing in the elections, and that morning he had asked to go into school early to help one of them finish off their powerpoint.
I honestly believe he would have been just as happy with a different result, and would have absolute support and respect for whoever may have gained more votes than him.
It would have been easy for him to see the others as 'opponents' -instead of other pupils worthy of the role. But he didn't: it wasn't about him. I love that.
Can I say I always respond to situations in the same way? Er ... that would be a no! Sometimes I do fall into the trap of making it about 'me'. I think, if we are being honest, we all do this at times. Don't we?
Of course, false humility is just as bad as a self-inflated ego. We need to find the balance. Perhaps the Biblical command to 'love one another as yourself' (Mark 12:31) helps us here. We need to love ourselves, to believe we can do it - but we also need to behave appropriately and in a manner that shows nothing but love, concern and respect for others.
I believe that my son exemplified this mandate - and I pray that I learn from him and put it into practice more in my own life.