Second place means you lost
I often find myself trying to convince a friend how important it is to win. To have the feeling that you were the best; that when it mattered most you had the extra. His lectures fall out of his mouth like practice runs for when his future son disappoints him with a silver medal at the three leg race.
He, of course, has known winning so often that a lost here and there is meaningless. If only we were all so lucky, but apparently there must always be losers so people like him can win.
Recently a student came in second in an essay contest, I was crushed for her but she smiled like she won first. Right now I have a fifth period class that has gone militant in their effort to win a donation drive, Pennies for Patients. They must compete against all the other fifth period classes on campus to win a pasta lunch from olive garden. This simply started with me saying you are doing this for more than a pasta lunch and the satisfaction of beating Zamora’s class you are doing this for the people who can’t afford their medical care; you are doing this for because they could not afford the classmate who just watched his father battle cancer, and lose this past weekend. the class mate whose grandfather died because they could not afford his medication. Me, who am so in debt due to my kidney disease that I have months where I have to decide which credit card gets paid. On that day the students came up with nearly $250 in less than 5 minutes. Somewhere in this all, it has morphed into winning. I can’t begin to explain how hard these students have worked, and how mush it became a mission. In a way this mission began to take over both them and me. I have to say I would take it personally hard if they do not win.
This becomes problematic, just like the student that I worried about how she took coming in second, how bad it would hurt just to watch her smile more completely than the first place winner. The need to win stems from me. It’s my issue with coming in second. I hate being second. I have spent my life coming in second. learning over and over, that if the winner should die or be unable to fulfill their duties I would be called on to step in.
If my students do not find out that they won this contest next week, they will be crushed, and broke, but move on, and so will I. But today – waiting to know, waiting for the final count, waiting to be called a winner. . .today feels good.
Today my students are the hardest working fourteen-fifteen year olds I’ve ever met, and I’m proud.
******They won, with $2025.00 raised for Pennies for Patients.******