Saturday, January 21, 2012

The prize of things...

Today we learnt some valuable lessons. Me and Winkie.

I learnt that as a mother, try as I might to detach myself from the display of overt emotions, I still feel them inside, which is perhaps why I struggle not to have to display it. That as a mother, I always wish for my sons to shine, and that I take a very personal pride in it. Even if I tend to play it down for the sake of company, or for the sake of myself.

There was an episode today, a wonderful, humbling, feeling, teaching, quieting episode where Winkie had the opportunity to take part in a competition. Where he did very well and made me very proud, of his poise and his quiet and sensible strength, but where he did not win a prize at the end. Its funny how the 1and 2 , become such important numbers we need the ownership of to have a feeling of validation in this world. That we....and our children...have worth and merit that can be proved to the rest of the world.

Its disquieting how much I seemed to have invested in that moment, which spelled the attaching of his name to either of those 2 numbers. How I held my breath, without even seeming to have held it. How much I wanted it for him, even when I convinced myself not to.

How words really come a poor second to that feeling of disappointment that a young boy feels in his heart, that acute pain when the prize slips away. Yes, he knows he did well. Yes, he is happy for his friend who made it 1st. Yes, he knows how proud his mom is of him. But he did not get the cup did he? And that hurts. Simple. It hurts.

It hurts.

But more than the feeling of that actual hurt, it hurts me more to know that I am still so easily culpable to this hurt. Not because I pride myself in having come such a long way in terms of personal development, but because swings of emotion are so scary sometimes. I am very afraid of feeling anything to a depth or intensity. It seems so much more safer to feel with a dull and fuzzy sense, than to have that emotion tweaked and amplified to this sharp, piercing thing, that just stares you straight in the face, leaving you no place to hide from it. This just goes to show the false sense of bravado I carry around me most of the time, just so I can feel that I have a firm foothold in my own life. So I must be honest and come clean so I can come free.

I am sad he didn't win the 1st prize. Or the 2nd. He did so darn well. But oh, the children who did, were  great too. And they had that little extra something that earned them that spot. I am so appreciative of that, as much as I am disappointed that we could not have that extra something too. I am afraid to identify so deeply with my son's feelings. But it happens so easily, so naturally, that in the process I am afraid to pass on too many of my own to him. I want his world to be simple. His thoughts even more so. I am afraid of not feeling true happiness for the other children who won. None of that mattered if my son didn't. I am disappointed in myself that I still haven't managed to shrug it off, that I am still holding on to it.

But all is not bleak. There are things for which I am glad too. I am glad, we did it. Just so we could be exposed to this kind of thing. Especially for Winkie. Without even knowing for sure, I know that this is one incident in his life will have made its mark on him....transformed some tiny, significant part of him. His tears, one full hour after everything, and after we came home is evidence of that. He held himself strong until then. I believe he expected his name to be called out, and was surprised when it wasn't, because he had felt very happy with the way he had done. He had the generosity and courage to wish his friend in more than a few did a very good job. Congratulations!....he managed to say. He was quiet and contained all the way back home in the car, as we discussed why the prizes went to the other children and not him. But  the minute we got home, the emotion was too much to hold in his little heart, and it spilled over. Big, wracking sobs, as I squeezed him tight. And then, right there, was the pure simple joy, that my son was having an acute experience with life, right in front of my very eyes. What a privilege it was to witness it. This is the stuff that life is made up of, isn't it. These piercing moments of direct experience that shake you up from your otherwise slumber. And Winkie whose emotions are usually hard to read, was expressing and emoting so beautifully, so directly....I was happy, even as I was sad.

After the tears were wiped, and the coolness washed over, we all took a walk, in the snow to the Dunkin's on the opposite side of the road. And sipped hot coffee, and bit into warm hash browns, and enjoyed some moments as a family. He has been all smiles since then, the moment having passed. And as I helped him brush his teeth, I came clean with him too....I am sad Winkie, that you did not win. And right then, again, was the acute delight of seeing a role reversed...of emotions swapped. I pouted sadly, while he smiled wisely, nodded sagely and said....yeah...I know. And that's when it just became very very....very very...clear. And I told him.

That as his mother, I would be telling him many many things all the time. Lots of advice and words and directives. And he may forget as many of them as I try to pass on. But if he could just remember one thing.... one single, simple thing, please. That whatever you do, do it in such a way that you can be happy with yourself. Just like how he felt today. How happy he was saying it because he knew he had given it his best. That precious feeling was the prize of it all . The one that nobody can award, and nobody can take. The one which lies in your safe keeping...

Yes.....I will.....he said.


Chithra said... Best Blogger Tips


I vividly follow your blogs. I admire your writing. This is the first time that I am giving my comments as I could easily relate what you are saying. Every time when my son goes out for competition, I do go through the same battle. All the time I battle within to have true happiness for the kids who won. it happens other way as well when my son wins and his close associate fails,I will not be sure how to celeberate his success in the forum.


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

yes, a grown up would have then put the burden on cosmic abstracts like karma,destiny et all.
odd,how after giving one's best,we somehow still cotton on outer validation.

Aruna said... Best Blogger Tips

I guess that's what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the competition, but how we lose and how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply elsewhere. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.

A prize-worthy post indeed!

Tharini said... Best Blogger Tips

Chithra : Its nice to hear from you. If losing is hard, winning is harder, it looks like. I would feel uncomfortable too.

Anon : It is odd. And unnecessary. But tell that to your mind. :)

Aruna : Losing, in a curious way, is winning. Wow. Wonderfully put.

scarlettwrites said... Best Blogger Tips

Dear Tharini,
The more I read about your Winkie, the more I think this could be me talking about Miss A.
Miss A was selected from her class for the school level poetry contest. We spent so much of time perfecting the poem till I was sure she became the voice of the poet.
When I went to pick her up that day, her voice was a whisper, her face was wilting.
'I didn't make it,' she said. I said all the right things but they sounded so hollow, I was struggling to find faith in myself and in her.
'We will do better next year,' I said.
'What if I lose again?' she said. 'I tried my best.'
'We will try a different kind of best,' I said.
'And if we lose, we will try yet again,' she asked.
And really what else is there, hey? Victory is a whimsical beast, it heeds no siren call.
Yet we keep trying. There is always next year. There is always a victory of the inner sorts around the bend.
Much love to you and Winkie,


BongMom said... Best Blogger Tips


I admire your parenting very much and you know I have been following your blog for a long time now :) but I don't understand why you would be sad that Winkie did not win. It is ok isn't it ? He did his best and his best might not always be "the best" the world decides for him.But that is fine, right? If he himself had not given his best that is another matter.
I mean by saying you are sad doesn't it put some pressure on him to "win always". You might be right that a competitive edge is necessary but I am unsure about the age when I should start that with my own child.

BongMom said... Best Blogger Tips

Ooops sorry, read deep into it. Guess we are saying the same thing :-D Only I am unsure if and when to introduce the competitive edge in my own child. She keeps saying things to me like "It is ok to not win, someone has to lose and then that person will also feel bad". A lesson I have learned late in my life :)

Tharini said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi BongMom : Nice to see your comment. :) I don't know why this affected my so much, but I know that it did, and that in itself, was interesting, because there are very few things I emote that intensely for, and when that emotion rises, I try to use it to search for what truly lies beneath. Those reasons are too personal to share here, so I won't. But maybe in the future, I won't be as affected by these episodes as I was this time.

And no, at the time I don't think it put any pressure on him. When he was down, I was strong and held him thru. When he was strong, I was honest and sincere and he accepted that with a smile and a wonder nonchalance, because he was already past it. It was a nice role reversal between mom and son, and that was it. If there is some c/f pressure, then there is already subject for another post, I guess. :)

Tharini said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks Scarlett : Sage words indeed. If anything, this incident showed Winkie that he would like to participate in things, where before he was only doing it for me. Now he sees that there is a value added benefit to putting yourself out there, and see what comes of it, both from outside and within yourself. All good! And all done! :)

noon said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Tharini - I loved this post. So close to my heart. I felt like I had nothing to write in my blog that meant anything to me. This post makes me want to write about some of these similar emotions and how much I am growing as a person because of what my kids go through. I completely envy the parents who can be very very cool and not worry if their child is winning or losing. I don't know if really there are any like that. But every time I go through emotions like these I feel somehow I chance upon others that puts things in perspective for me. It is not something I will win ever I think but it will be a continuous learning process for me - accepting that they will go through pain at times and I have to accept it. I had tears in my eyes because Winkie is also someone dear to my heart and I felt so sad to think that he was disappointed and that he bottled up his emotions until he got home. Sometimes I feel like I don't want them to participate in any competitions until they are a little older...more because I can't deal with their pain! :)
Beautiful post.

SUR NOTES said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful! To be honest with him and to give him the space to be honest with himself.

the mad momma said... Best Blogger Tips

I wish I could say I understand. Because at the moment the Brat stays distanced from competitions, is unable to understand the concept of competition, doesn't invest in them emotionally and smiles happily at anyone winning.

This is all tough for me to relate to because I was competitive. I still am in many ways. And I'm learning to be curiously zen from him. I wonder if it shouldn't be the other way where I rouse him into some form of competition.....

Null Pointer said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow Tharini - your brave honesty and acute awareness of both yourself and your child is something that I struggle with to no end. It's been ages since I stopped by, and as always, I leave inspired. Your boys are the luckiest!

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