If you’re not First, you’re Last!

I’ve never been a huge fan of “Participation” ribbons. They started in the late 1970s to early 1980s and I remember them at Track and Field, right around this time of year.

Some years, I’d never be in the top four in a given event, but I’d still come home with that blue or white or yellow “Participant” ribbon. I hated it. Who cares that you showed up? I wanted to be good enough to actually get a red (First), blue (Second) or white (Third) ribbon. I never liked the idea of conforming or being just like the rest of the kids, so being handed a ribbon that every other kid was getting was NOT working for me.

In the following decades, Participating became a real achievement. They even made MEDALS for it! I watched my kids bring home wheelbarrow loads of Participation medallions that hang sadly in the corner of their rooms. They are prized or valued. They are dust collectors. I guess that’s the problem when your mom isn’t into participation so much as she is into TRYINGYOURFREAKIN’BEST!

As I have said numerous times, I’m not about perfection, but I am about giving YOUR best EFFORT. If my very best wasn’t as good as your best, then I bloody well want you to get the ribbon for winning, because then I’m going to work harder to whip your butt the next time!

Which reminds me of one of my all time favourite lines in a movie….


Not exactly what I believe in, but it’s still a great line.

The Big Guy and I have never been the types of parents to tell our kids that they were “the best” at something merely because they were our children, or to make them feel better about themselves. I know several occasions where First Born Son or Second Born Son would come to one of us, crestfallen that they hadn’t received an award they were coveting at school, or hockey, or softball. Sometimes the kid who did get the award was no more deserving, which just added insult to injury, but when the recipient was deserving (which was most of the time) I’d show my offspring why I could see the justice in the decision. Maybe the winner studied harder, practiced more, was more consistent in their efforts. You put in the work, you bring home the hardware – if that’s what you want out of life.

Which is what made last week so very special.

SBS has really embraced his artistic side. His weekly art classes are his favourite times of the week and he spends just about every free moment doing this….

Artist at work!

Artist at work!

He has taken over the dining room, and is often found drawing while listening to YouTube videos about the latest Marvel film or comic book release.

His talent is unmistakeable. And remember, I’m not a gusher!

Original on left, SBS's rendition on the right…crazy, right?

Original on left, SBS’s rendition on the right…crazy, right?

And this…

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Each year there is an art show where all the students, young and old, display their pieces and invite their friends and family to see their work. It’s a lovely evening at the teacher’s studio, spilling out into the back yard.

This year was no different, except for one small detail. SBS won the big award of the evening, Most Improved Artist! The award recognized SBS’s dedication and hard work which was so evident in his art. I loved this for two reasons – one, he was competing against himself, which means he ends up being better, and two, because I don’t believe art can really be judged one piece against another, this award was about the artist’s growth and not his work in comparison to others’.

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He received hardware AND a certificate! Here we have the artist pose with a sample of his body of work.

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And the cherry on the top was that he sold one of his pieces that very night!

Bye Buh Spider Man!

Bye Buh Spider Man!

But what made it so important to SBS was that while he didn’t expect it, he realized after that he was deserving. Isn’t that what makes winning so sweet?

The Big Wee-ner!

The Big Wee-ner!

The hardware now sits in a place of honour in the living room, for all to see and admire! 🙂

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Practice vs. Passion

When Second Born Son decided to learn to play the drums, we were really excited, even though most people thought we were crazy.

After a year of lessons, we could see the interest waning. We encouraged, we cajoled, we got ticked. Finally I advised him after Christmas that we would not be continuing the lessons. He was very disappointed. I explained to him that I don’t want the “Bad Guy” role of forcing him to do something he wasn’t interested in pursuing. He admitted he agreed with the decision – but just as a break. While he does enjoy the drums, I don’t think he LOVES the drums. Certainly not enough to practice on a regular basis. While I don’t mind keeping the kit in the basement incase he changes his mind, I’m not going to make my limited parenting time shrieking about practice.

I remember my parents having to take that role with me, when they paid for organ lessons for me and Little Sister. I can remember practicing and hating the organ because that was the easiest place to direct my frustration. I certainly didn’t want to blame myself, but I’m sure I shot more than one loathing look at my parents.

I guess I’m taking a different look at this. Some might say, “You’re letting him quit!” I’m saying, “I’m letting him find his passion.” There’s a difference. Some of you may recall me being a cow about not allowing First Born Son to quit playing hockey many moons ago. You can pack up your hypocrite flags, because the difference here is FBS wanted to quit because of the actions of others; he still loved hockey. SBS is simply isn’t  interested in drums enough to spend the time to practice therefore I don’t feel the desire to spend the money.

In the middle of this discussion, he was finishing a project for school; a poster of what the Canadian government would have sent out to European countries to encourage immigration. You know, if posters were the thing to do in the 1800s. I took a look at his poster and told him I was disappointed that he traced the image of the man in the poster.

“I didn’t trace it,” he replied, rather indignant. SBS does indignant very well.

“You’re telling me you DREW that?” I replied.

“Yes!” he said.

“You are positive?” I replied, have another look.

“YES! I DIDN’T TRACE IT!” he’s annoyed with me, and rather offended. He’s pretty good at offended too.

That’s when the lightbulb went on for me. I’m not sure why I didn’t see it before.

My grandmother was an artist…

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My sister is an artist….

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not to mention…this….


And while FBS would say he cannot draw anything beyond stick people, there is no denying his creativity,

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…both from his brain, no pattern here folks.

His father is creative through his landscaping and I’ve been known to take a photo or two, so I’m not sure what took me so long to put it together. But I realized we were definitely on to something after his first lesson.

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Wow. Looking good!

Last night was his second lesson…

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Holy. Crap.

SBS is excited, inspired and eager to learn more.

So in the end, is it about fighting about practicing, or is this about finding your passion and going with that?

I’ll take the later.