Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My First Major Heartbreak for my Kid

There are hundreds of firsts as a parent, most euphoric and heart warming. I had my first major heartbreak for my kid yesterday.

I immediately felt the sting behind my eyelids. Everything became an underwater blur, tears welling up as I scrolled the email, "So, as I'm sure Iris has told you, she did not get elected to student council this year...the votes were REALLY close!"
{Iris, Ms. MaGrath, Eleanor - Meet the Teacher Night}

A pang of guilt slapped me. I didn't know; she was at aftercare, and I was home working like a beast. I would have picked her up after school, given her the take-it-all-away hug and Amy's ice cream with 2 toppings including gummy bears.  If only I'd stayed for the results.

My girl is the most enthusiastic student you'll meet, a kind-hearted nurturer eager to please with a steadfast moral compass and high sense of justice.  A good friend and a doting sister. It was the start of a new school year, and Iris was determined to rise to the 3rd grade. It was the big time - letter grades, tests, and gads of homework.

The call out for the Maplewood Student Council came in the Wednesday folder.  It was grown-up, in fact stern even. There were lots of pre-reqs including a signature of commitment from the teacher and your parent.  No baby stuff here.
Iris set up a make-shift office in the kitchen and worked earnestly while I cooked dinner, checking herself on each qualification.  She worked, she read, I listened.  OK, I might have inner giggled and outer smiled just a bit at her admission that student council might help her "get better at controlling my temper."  I mean, come on, I'm only human.  She was super proud of herself and super hopeful, as was I.  She was a candidate by God.

A few days passed and "OMG", the big news dropped.  There were 8 submissions in her class alone and the school counselor Ms. Kirk would lead a speech-off for every candidate in front of the entire classroom to pick 2 winners by student secret ballet vote.

The big day arrived yesterday. Iris awoke super early, put on her fancy new dress from Marmie, her election day game face, and slicked back her hair into a shiny ponytail, .
{YES, that's "the speech".  I'm a Mom. I have to catch these things on the sly}

I acted measly and trailed behind the class from assembly.  Ms. M is all business in there, so I figured if I just shut my mouth and kept my hand gestures small, you know, be on the down-low, I could sneak in.  It worked! A bright-eyed Eleanor B popped up at the door, the competition.  Duh, duh duh.....she was wearing a nearly identical dress as Iris', black and white stripes on top, teal on the bottom.  Was it mind voodoo?  
{School Counselor Ms. Kirk laying down the rules of the speech-off}

Eleanor had the best plan.  She went first then took off for a swanky vaca with her dad (OK - I'm making that part up) but not before she wrote down two names - speech unseen and turned them into Ms. M.  Eleanor's speech was for real-memorized with good 'ole campaign promises about what she'd get her classmates if elected and the gung-ho"Vote for me!" appeal at the end so many 3rd graders feel weird proselytizing.  Not Eleanor though - she really went for it.  You have to admire that.

Next, it was Iris's turn.  

So good, right?!  All of the kids really rose to the occasion.  I beamed with pride confident the girl was totally in.

"However, I want you to give Iris another hug for me if you can tonight for some qualities she exhibited today confront losing: grace, resilience, empathy, and just really outstanding character.  I am impressed daily by Iris' ability to think of others, and to put it all in perspective.  She was upset for losing and so she wrote this note to Jake today, I wanted to include it (hope Iris and Jake don't mind!). You have a really special kiddo there (as you already know!)
Ms. M"
The truth is, getting up in front of your classmates is really hard for a 3rd grader.  Some kids desperately wanted to and prepared speeches, but just couldn't do it in the end. The new girl Perseis got up and nailed it out of the park off-the-cuff.  The entire class did an outstanding job!

My heartbreak is knowing this was something Iris really really wanted, and she had to suck it up because she didn't get. This will happen a lot in life, and there's nothing I can do about it. Iris would have made an A+ Student Council Member, but, I'm relieved she's able to feel the upset, congratulate the winners, and move on. 

I asked her about it when she got home yesterday. She told me she didn't cry on the outside, just the inside. But she's 8, she's resilient, and she's nearly over it just a few short days later.

The shining moment:  Ms. M nominated Iris for a Peacemaker Award for her character in the face of defeat read in front of the entire student body by Ms. Kirk this morning.  It's a pretty big deal. She was a little shy about it, but beaming, knowing she tried her best and her teacher knew it.


  1. I have tears in my eyes. You have a wonderful daughter who will make a great class president one day. And she already understands the most important life lesson: it's not the victories but the defeats and how we cope with them that defines us.

  2. What a wonderful story of courage and strength, resilience and grace. You are raising one amazing daughter, Ms. Mel!

    1. Also, I never did learn how to sign my name. ;) ~ Sara Saige

    2. Thanks Sara! I love your name - always have. And, she's still learning left from right. I just say put up your hand in a halt and the one that makes an "L" is left!