Tag Archives: accomplishments

In defense of the trophy

Sunday I competed in an Iron Girl sprint triathlon. I use the word “competed” lightly, for really, I finished it. I finished in the top 50% of all competitors, but I was not close to winning or even in the top 100. As I crossed the finish line, a very nice volunteer hung a medal around my neck and I couldn’t have been more proud or more relieved to get that medal. It meant I was done, it meant that my hard work was acknowledged. I earned that medal. I didn’t win it, but I did earn it.


Then I came home and scrolled through Facebook because I couldn’t move anymore and it seemed like the thing to do, and I saw an article being shared about James Harrison (Pittsburgh Steeler) taking his children’s participation trophy and people were applauding him. Then I thought, “I just got a participation trophy” and in my dehydrated over-stressed state, I got a little mad. I thought about all the trophies I had received over the years. They range from participation to first place trophies for multiple sports. I thought about how proud I was when I received the trophy for winning and how receiving the “participation trophy” was nice to receive. It was something I had to remember the season by and how I in no way confused getting that trophy for the first place trophy. Now, concerned that I was just letting my exhaustion get the better of me, I dug out my old trophies and had an experiment. Here are said trophies… (and counter clutter in my house).


Both are from my 1996 summer swim team (yes, I still have trophies I won in 1996). The big one I received for winning the girls 15-18 100 meter freestyle at the championship meet, the smaller I got for being part of the team. Then I gathered the children. A 6 year old autistic child and a 4 year old and I asked them which one they would rather have. Both said “the big one”. Then I explained why I received each one and asked which was more important and again they said “the big one” so I went one step further and asked if they got the small one, which would be given to everyone, would they think they won something and they both said “no”. And Molly even said “I got a trophy for playing soccer, but I didn’t win” ok, so they get it. Just as I got it as a kid. And in case you missed it, they were giving out participation trophies in 1996 and actually I found one from 1992, so this is not a new phenomenon in an attempt to wussify our children. In fact, a lot of these parents that are praising James Harrison, are also people that received a participation trophy. I know, because I stood along beside them as a team mate.

I continued to think about this over the next 24 hours. I thought about how no one is trying to take the medals I received for running races in my adult life. I thought about how no one is saying that I don’t deserve them. Why not? It’s the exact same thing. I didn’t win any race I’ve ran as an adult, but over half of them I earned a medal for. And, yes, I believe I earned them because I trained for them and fought every step from the starting line to the finish line. I started to think what I hope my kids learn from watching me train and compete. I lose races and I get back up and hit the road or the pool for another workout and compete again. I hope I’m teaching them perseverance and how my perseverance earns recognition. I continued to think about how people say that we are doing our children a disservice by not allowing them to lose. I disagree, I don’t see how complimenting and rewarding hard work, commitment, and team work is a bad thing. Those are all the traits that make people better, not winning. I did not get a job as an adult based on my ability to win races as a child, I got a job because of the lessons I learned from participating.

I think where we go wrong is confusing the terms “earn” and “win”. Winning something is not the same as earning something. Winning is achieving victory, earning is gaining something from work or service (thank you Google). They are not synonyms. Kids can earn a trophy by working hard throughout the season and they can learn what it means to lose and stand tall in defeat. The message is important. The recognition symbolized by the trophy is important. Positive reinforcement is important. I want my kids to know that their work is worth something. That the time and effort they dedicated is important. That even if they didn’t win, they are still better people for trying.


Smiles & Beer at 9 AM. Practicing the art of “leaving the children”

Funny thing, when I tell people that my husband and I are going away I usually get one of two responses. I either get a “good for you!” or a “WTF?”. Rarely is there a reaction in between. That being said, I think leaving the kids is a GOOD THING. In my mind I’m teaching them some great life lessons and hopefully setting them up for future successful relationships. That could also be the beer talking….

With that being said, I give you the  7 reasons I think leaving my kids behind is beneficial.

1. First and Foremost Stampy and I are husband and wife. I used to laugh at the baby advice books that urged me not to neglect my husband. Maybe that’s because it told me that I should simultaneously be nursing a child, changing a diaper and fixing him a sandwich. (ok, maybe not quite that bad, but one was very much pro-serve-your-husband) Down to the nitty gritty it has a good point. To be successful parents and teammates you need to get along. How do you get along? By doing things that you enjoy without someone throwing food on the ground, whining or punching their brother.

2. We are strengthening the grandparent/grandchild bond. Yes, they do see them all week long but there’s nothing wrong with a little extra special one on one time with the grandparents. Even kids need a break from their mundane boring parents that are always telling them to brush their teeth, put their shoes on or go to bed. That is a win-win-win situation.

3. This trip was to run a 10K. The kids have watched us (me, really) train and go running. I think teaching hard work, exercise and goal achievement is one much more effective by showing them instead of telling them. Molly is also learning the art of losing gracefully and perseverance, when she sees that I never win a race but continue to try. However, she never hides her disappointment when she hears that I didn’t win. “Maybe next time, Mom”

4. I get two days without reading food labels. Two. Whole. Days. That only means that my food label reading skills will be rested and ready to go when I get back instead of getting half way through the store and realizing everything in the cart has not been checked. Now, everything will be double and triple checked. Thank you rested, non-autopilot brain.

5. I learn to tone down my Type A, hyper-controlling personality. In order to leave your kids and want the grandparents to do it again, you can’t hound them for every time they give Oreo cookies for breakfast. After all, it’s really not my problem when the sugar high kicks in and at least the kids are eating while I’m gone!

6. I can exercise and drink all before 9 AM. That is two things before 9 AM. Two fun things. Usually those two things are drinking cold coffee and losing my mind trying to get the kids ready for school.

7. I realize I miss the bickering and whining. Crazy, right? But removing myself from it actually makes me miss it (really, the kids) which helps me on the days when no one will listen to a word I say, I just think back and remembered that I missed this. I missed the insanity and wanted to come home to it.


How To Get Things Done: Elefun Edition

Being a working mom is hard. There is a constant struggle of trying to get things done and spending quality time with your kids. After all, once they are in bed I have cupcakes to eat and my dvr’d 3 week old Chelsea Lately isn’t going to watch itself. Therefore I try to incorporate work and play. Today I managed to empty and load the dishwasher in less than 30 minutes. Amazing, I know. I was so proud of myself, but I owe a lot of credit to Elefun. So here’s how it works:

1. Play 1-2 rounds of Elefun with the kids
2. Load up the butterflies and while they are distracted, run like hell to the kitchen.
3. Unload 3 plates
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 several times
5. Show kids how to load butterflies themselves, run like hell
6. Realize it’s been quiet for a good 60 seconds, sneak a peak to make sure everyone is still breathing and/or not coloring on the walls
7. Start loading dishwasher
8. After getting the silverware in, see the Wild Card run by with a bare bottom yelling “bare bum!”
9. Chase Wild Card for several laps and try to wrestle new diaper on
10. Realize the kids have moved on from Elefun and distract with Alphie, run like hell
11. Quickly throw remaining dishes into dishwasher and hope none of them really need to be rinsed.

And done. One less thing to accomplish after bedtime and since I got some exercise in, I can now have 2 cupcakes. I call that a win-win-win.