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thrill of victory, agony of defeat

28 Feb

I have two daughters who dance competitively. Their solos are of different genres, tap and ballet.

The tap solo is very fast, upbeat, uses the whole stage with many turns and varied footwork. The ballet solo is slow with gentle controlled leaps and balancing arabesques.

My younger daughter’s ballet solo was breathtakingly beautiful. Her poise and balance for her young age is admirable. 

I am her Mom, I am biased.

My older daughter’s feet fly during her tap solo, and I’ve seen such growth in her movement, her arms, her turns and spins. She loves dancing on stage! The only lacking quality is a consistent smile. I laughed because when I mention this to her she replies, “Smile? Mom I am having a hard enough time catching my breath let alone smile during the entire routine!” I could see she really put her forth all she had to dance her best. Her tap solo was amazing!!!!

I am her Mom, I am biased.

My youngest took 1st place for her ballet solo with a high gold. This was her first solo and ballet solos are typically marked lower than other genres of solos. She took the highest placement in the marking system with the high gold. She was also runner-up for an overall award!!  She didn’t want runner-up, she wanted 1st overall. How do I parent this? Do I tell her to stop pouting and congratulate the winner? Do I tell her to find out what she needs to do to win the BIG trophy? Do I talk to her about the awesome jazz solo winner who did so many spins it made me dizzy?

How do you teach graciousness to a child who wins an award, but not the award she wanted?

She doesn’t like to talk about it. If I do she replies, “I wanted the big trophy.” With tears in her eyes, she listens to my advice.

I don’t know if she’s really listening, tuning me out, yelling at me in her head, or taking it all in to plan her strategy for next weekend’s competition.

I wonder if she’s disappointed in herself for not dancing “better’ to win 1st overall, or if she’s mad because she feels she danced her best to deserve the 1st placement. Maybe she feels being runner-up is not good enough and she won’t settle for anything less than 1st place overall.

My oldest daughter felt thrill with her mark and placement. She was in a group of six solos placing 6th with gold. She felt she danced well, just needs to smile more and knows the other solos were also great. She understands when she dances her best, it’s up to the judges to choose who they liked. She knows her gold mark may have been only a few decimals away from the 1st place dancer’s mark. She was happy for the other dancers and congratulated each of them. She has great sportsmanship.

They are both winners for having the courage and ability to dance competitively!

If my younger daughter is not happy with the smaller trophy okay, but I’d like her to at least congratulate the winner and be gracious to those who come up to tell her how great she did.

Do I urge her not to settle for less than she feels she deserves? Is that the attitude of all great dancers and olympic athletes?

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