Not Quite The Fastest Kid in First Grade

I’m an Enneagram Three, which really means my sweet spot is in meeting and beating expectations. I love a good goal, and I can get intense when trying to accomplish what I set out to do. (Sorry about that, friends and fam.) Although technically you’re not supposed to “diagnose” you children with The Enneagram, I’m fairly certain that Emma Vance is a 2 — with her wing really being up in the air. Whether she’s more Perfectionist or Achiever is still to be seen, but I will say that she loves dreaming about one thing — WINNING.

Last year, E.V. decided to run her school’s fundraiser race — a 5K! As much as I love and believe in her, I figured we’d make it about a mile before she’d get exhausted and give up. Boy, was I in for a surprise. My competitive little girl made it the entire way on her own two feet, fighting against achy legs and exhaustion. I was seriously so proud. After we crossed the finish line, we each grabbed a participation medal and made our way through the parking lot, until someone called after us — Where were we going? E.V. had WON! I was flabbergasted. She was stunned. We were all teary. I thought for sure we didn’t place, but there she was — The Fastest Kid in Kindergarten! (It seriously is one of my favorite memories as a parent to-date.)

E.V. reveled in that triumph all year, and I can’t blame her. It was her moment. We took to running off and on this year around our neighborhood, all in the name of trying to be the Fastest Kid in First Grade. We worked on endurance (because last year we did a lot of walking breaks) and attitude (because, man, even a little kid can have bad self-talk under stress). And then the big day came — the elementary school 5k!

Emma Vance’s mind was in the game, and she was ready to go. The route felt much more crowded this year, and I had a sinking feeling. As we jogged along, she kept pace, rarely ever stopping to walk. We cheered each other on. As her teachers passed by us, they shouted out words of encouragement. Friends gave out high fives as we ran by along the course. Ryan and Cricket went wild as we rounded the corner. Emma Vance was in her element. And then I saw some kids about her age getting pushed in strollers or carried by parents…and little boys racing past us…and her energy waning a bit. And I got worried. Not because I really cared about whether or not she won, but because I know she cared.

We crossed the finish line, red-faced and thirsty. We met up with Ryan and Cricket in the crowd and celebrated the accomplishment. And then we waited for the medal ceremony. The big winners were first, then down to the youngest. As we waited, I tried to remind E.V. how proud I was that she actually did it (and did visibly better than last year). Then, it was time. First place is called…and then second place…and I can see E.V. straining to see over the crowd, and I’m bracing for the let-down, and I’m trying to form the right words to say to my child next…and then they call Third Place — and E.V.’s name!!! And the crowd goes WILD! (Okay, more like, and the Shove family goes WILD!)

So Emma Vance didn’t meet her ultimate goal, but she was still ecstatic. After the excitement has worn off and everything was still and quiet, E.V. told me that she was sad that she wasn’t The Fastest Kid in First Grade. And I let her have that. It’s okay to feel disappointment. But, as we talked through it, I tried to remind her — The Third Fastest Kid in First Grade is still pretty amazing and definitely something to be proud of. So we hung her medals in her closet where she can be reminded that setting goals and reaching goals are two very different things, but no matter where she lands in life, we will celebrate her with enthusiasm.

Now on to training for her next big race… ;)

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