Today my daughter had a rare experience. She lost. In her 7 years of life, truly competitive events have been few. For the most part, they've been of the "Everyone wins" variety, like the entire t-ball season where every single game magically ended in a "tie", or performances like dance and music recitals. And in the few competitive events she does do, she's tended to do well-like spelling bee, where she's won her grade level in both 1st and 2nd grade.
However, today she had her first cheer competition at level 2. And while her team had, in her time in level 1, always placed in the top 3 and gotten a bid to state, and, in fact, had always placed high at the state level as well (culminating in a state championship in her final level 1 competition), level 2 didn't go so well. They didn't get a bid or a place in the top 3. No trip to Nashville for the state competition, or chance at a state title, or anything, really, to do but gather your pompoms and go home.
And that's what she did. She obviously was disappointed, but applauded politely, gathered her pom poms, got her hugs from her parents and her coach, who pointed out what a great job she'd done in her first competition as a flyer, and went home. And by the time we got on the interstate, she was happily singing along with the radio, confident that "we'll get them next time!"
I don't think I've ever been so proud of my daughter after any sort of competition-and maybe not ever. Because today she proved something. Not only can she win, but she truly is a winner at heart-because, even in losing, she's able to win where it counts.