Monday, February 25, 2013

Gracie the Poet (with the Trophy to Show it)

Since she was in kindergarten, my 7-year-old has dreamed of winning her school's Imaginations creativity contest. There's a range of mediums to choose from - art, photography, short stories, etc. In kindergarten, when the theme was announced, she was so excited she planned on entering in every category.

It's a project without parent involvement, so I provided whatever materials she would need, then gave her space to do her creative little thing. Gracie had big plans - huge - and knew it would possibly take all the weeks allotted to complete her projects. That only excited her more, and she worked every day after school....

And then her friends began handing in their own finished projects, and Gracie seemed to realize there was a chance she might not win.

With that, she was done. She set down her art supplies, looked indifferent, and insisted, "I don't have to enter. It's not homework. It's just if people want to. And I don't want to anymore."

When Gracie digs in her heels, she goes NOWHERE. Not the tiniest millimeter further, no matter how much encouraging and cheering Will and I are doing on the sidelines. (Sometimes being a parent sucks)

I was so mad. I tried not to be. Being mad at her certainly doesn't help at all. Besides, she's exactly like me, EXACTLY. And when I dig in my heels because of self-doubt, that's that.

Also, I learn from example, and she does, too. So after the contest passed for the SECOND year, and she still didn't enter because she was still too afraid to lose, and I was once again MAD, I told her that I was going to enter a short story contest - even though short stories aren't really my area of expertise. The winner of a contest I'd been toying with the idea of entering would be published, and that sounded like a mighty nice prize. And I told her that in second grade, no matter what, she had to enter her school's contest.

Gracie was intrigued by the idea of me entering a contest, too, and promised she would. I updated her on my short story-writing status for weeks. When my story was done, she watched me chew off my nails as I entered. A couple weeks later, the winners were announced and I wasn't among them. I was disappointed and she was the cutest thing as she hugged me, and let me know it would be okay (Most of the time, being a parent doesn't suck). She watched me get over it, sit at my computer, and get back to work.

Weeks ago, the contest at her school was announced, the theme being Elect to be Excellent! She remembered her promise, and took it all very seriously, sketching out pictures of kids being excellent by acing spelling tests, and considering possible short story ideas. Annelie entered in the K-1st grade Art division, but two days before the deadline, Gracie still wasn't sure what to do about her half-finished pieces. She was already talking about the other kids winning, and I worried, once again, that she would lose to self-doubt.

So I dug in my heels. "Either finish a project you are working on and possibly win, or turn it in unfinished and definitely lose. It's your choice, but YOU ARE ENTERING," I said. (breathing fire. I can be scary)

And it worked! Gracie tossed out every unfinished, hated thing she'd begun and grabbed her notebook - which she is never without. Starting fresh, she wrote the most brilliant poem!

The Spelling Test
by Gracie Hopkins

My spelling test is on Thursday.
I haven't studied yet.
I really don't know the words well.
I'll study so I won't forget.

I studied and studied.
My friend asked me to play.
I said, "No way! 
I want to get a good grade!"

It was Thursday.
We took our spelling test.
I got everything right.
It felt good because I did my best!

(awesome, yeah?)

And here is Annelie's entry, TAKING CARE OF FRIENDS (also called, THE SICKNESS, because she loves how morbid that sounds):

Friday was the award ceremony, which is a pretty big deal at their school. The judges are all professors of the arts at local universities, and hearing all the fuss made by the principal during the ceremony, I understood Gracie's past intimidation. We knew ahead of time that she had won a prize in her category, which ranged from a long string of honorable mention ribbons through 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place trophies. (poor Annelie was devastated because she had not won a prize)

Will and I were so nervous and excited for Gracie when the 2nd - 3rd grade poetry division winners were announced...And WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER! Gracie won 1st place!

 Yaaaaaay, we are all so proud of her!

Well, not exactly all of us... Annelie sobbed through the entire ceremony. "It's not faaaaaairrrrrrr," she wailed when it was over.

I think Mama's Next Lesson needs to be something about supporting Sister's successes gracefully, and not being a sore loser...

Ha! Good luck to me.

Happy Monday, folks! Hope this week is filled with win!



Denise Felton said...

I love Gracie. I love Annelie. And I love you, Mom. Awesome awesome women.

Alyssa S. said...

Good job Gracie! Teaching them to put things out there, even if they don't win is such an important lesson. We're weeks away from Amelia's first dance competition and I've had to have to conversation over (and over and over) that it's not about's about doing your best and trying hard. We've told her and her dance teacher has told her we will be proud no matter what as long as she TRIES!

DancingMooney said...

Both of your girls are going to grow up doing magical things, I just know it. Maybe part of the learning for them, can be supporting each other as sisters too... you are so on it girl, good job Mom!! ♥

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Oh goodness, that sounds so much like me! I'm my own worst enemy, for sure, the voices in my head so toxic sometimes. Maybe it's a perfectionist thing? If we're going to do it, we have to do it perfectly, and if it's a contest, we have to win it! I understand her so much, and I understand how hard it is to work with someone like us! (and you, by the sound of it! LOL) But I'm so proud of both of you for your perseverance. And look, she won! So exciting! I hope she never stops trying, no matter what. And you too!

Kearsie said...

It's all in the family!!!!

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