Growing My Girls for the Will to Win


I can’t imagine being 7 years old and having to make sense of peers being invited to something that she wasn’t. A “something’ that implies, “You’re smart,” or “There’s something special about you.”

She stuffed her feelings. Didn’t say anything about it. Just kept smiling as if everything was okay.

Then, a prime opportunity to reclaim self-esteem and feel smart again. The science bee. The history bee.

Representing her class among her peers with the winners from the four other classrooms. What a sense of accomplishment it would be if she won the grade-level bees? How super proud would her parents be of her?

It was a temptation far to relevant. And she lied. To feel smart. To feel special. To have her parents express their excited praise!

So, she said she won.

Did you see that? The trap. The belief that to restore this feeling of self-worth, a lie was necessary. I don’t blame her. How often do we do it too?

But when the truth is laid open, it humbles. And it restores.

She has strong interests in technology, science, social studies, media, and how things work (a.k.a., engineering). She has a teacher’s spirit and enjoys instructing others, making her a natural leader among her peers. She excels in language arts and tackles math like it’s a fun game. She loves people and cultures and exploring the differences among us.

Then, the 9 year old big sister weighs in. Tells her she is smart. She is special. She doesn’t need to lie to feel good about herself. And that just because you didn’t get something like your friends, you are still a great sister. One who loves. One who helps. One who teaches. All you have to do is think about all the good things, and winning isn’t everything.

I’d never ever seen this kind of maturity and wisdom in big sister before. It was beautiful. It was inspiring. It was tear-inducing. Sheer pride at her ability to communicate so clearly what she thought about her little sister lying. Just to feel smart and special.

No, winning isn’t everything. But the will to win is. Growing my girls with the will to win is a daily priority.  Most days it gets messy and complicated. But then there are those moments in life when their self-worth and esteem shine bright because they understand the will to go after what they’re good at.

Doing your best sometimes misses the mark or gets overlooked. Yet, refocusing on the will to win is what’s most important. I am thankful for these lessons learned and perspective changed with my girls this week.


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