My son is a couple of months too young for his class, and is tiny even by the standards of kids his age. Which makes him a full head shorter than some of the bigger boys in his Kindergarden class. So when I heard about the Sports Day in his school, I knew he was going to place somewhere near the bottom in the running races.He suffered from no such inhibitions. "Mamma, I am going to run very fast and come first", he informed me.
I knew there was absolutely no hope of his ever doing so, but foolishly played along, "If you come first, you will become Mamma's favourite."
I was hoping he would ask if he would be my favourite even if he did not win, so I could tell him that what mattered to me was how fast he ran, not how fast he ran in comparison to the other kids, but it never got to that.
"I will come first", he assured me, and that was it.
I did not want his Sports Day to come. I did not want my little one to fail, as I knew he would.
And yet, I saw no way in which I could prevent his failure.
His class ran the 'Reindeer Race" - the kids all wore reindeer headgear, and had to pick up a present which was placed halfway up the track. My son lined up next to two of the tallest kids in his class. I couldn't even bear to look. There was absolutely no way he could compete against all those boys and win. But he didn't seem to have any such misgivings.
He lined up with the rest of the boys, and took off the instant the whistle ran. He ran better than he has ever run before, but was still 11th in a field of 12.
I didn't even want to face my son, but he rushed up to me after the race saying, "Mamma, I won!!!"
"Did you?", I was genuinely happy. If he was going to distort truth to suit his needs, I was okay with that.
"Yes, I won. I ran very fast. More fast that I have run before. I won."
My son was not shying away from the truth as I'd thought he was. He was facing the world on his terms, and winning. I was proud of him, still am.
Two months shy of his fourth birthday, my son has more wisdom than most people my age.