Last Saturday, my kids fenced in the Central Coast Youth Circuit fencing tournament. Trevor (9) came in 2nd in his age group and was thrilled. Adam (13) lost in his age group but was also very pleased. After discussing the glory of winning and the agony of defeat, it was interesting to see that Adam was not in agony at all. He is not a real competitive kind of kid when it comes to sports – board games, yes; sports, no. So we discussed his purpose for fencing because in our club, you can take the minimum 2 classes a week or you could opt for more or even private lessons if you’d like to improve more quickly. I explained that winning might make it even more fun for him if he could get more practice. He said he wasn’t really interested in medals or winning, but his purpose for fencing was to get a great workout (you should see the buckets of sweat that come off them!) in a fun way – and fencing for the game of it is soooo fun! The sheer process of TRYING to get a point and defending against the opponent who is also trying to get a point is the most fun of all for him. Winning is just the cherry on top.
Interestingly, my more competitive and sports-oriented son, Trevor feels the same way, but enjoys winning too. He concurred that he could take it (medal winning) or leave it. I think he likes the winning and the medal a lot more than he’s admitting, but the discussion was so valuable for me. First, I learned what my kids really enjoy about what they’re doing, why they are doing it and what their goal is for it. Knowing that helps me determine if we are being successful in meeting their needs there and whether the activity is worth spending time, money and energy on – all of which are in short supply these days. I don’t do anything that *I* think is a great idea, but incorporate the kids’ purpose in all of our planning.
Second, I got to see a glimpse of my kids’ hearts and how much they’ve grown, their depth of character and maturity. Having two boys in that 10-13 age range I see a lot of goofiness, but at the same time moments like this show me what they’re really made of and I am impressed by Adam’s quiet confidence and Trevor’s humility. This helps me celebrate my kids strengths in an authentic way and I love them all the more.