Indirect learning, and sharing

At last Sunday’s gymnastics meet, J-man did not do as well as he hoped. This happens. He enjoyed the actual meet, but after they presented the awards, our conversation went something like this:

J-man: “Fourteenth. FOURTEENTH?”

Me: “There were lots of good kids.”

“But my scores were really good. Fourteenth?”

“Would you have been happier with second?”


“But the kid who got second wasn’t happy with second.”

“That’s the way it goes. But I would have been happy with second.”

“Were you happy with your scores?”


He mulled that over, then we returned to the lobby, where he spent a lot of time walking on his hands while I was busy making sure we had all the various pieces we came with. Each time I glanced at him, he seemed to be walking on his hands. It felt like more than usual, but I was distracted, checking out the vendors in case there was anything I absolutely had to have.

He asked if he could walk on his hands to the car.


“If I put shoes on them?”


Once in the car, he examined his trophy with disdain.

“I might as well not have a trophy. Fourteenth!”

He complained off and on for the 1.5 hour drive home. When we arrived home, he was playing with the trophy on the kitchen counter when it fell and broke. Tears ensued, the conflict between his heartbreak of it not being exactly what he wanted, while still being the treasured result of his hard work.

Later that night, we remembered that tomorrow was his turn for “News Flash” at school. (News Flash is kind of like Show and Tell, without the Show part.)

“What do you think you want to do for News Flash?”

“I don’t know. I can’t say that I came in fourteenth. No one will understand how hard it was to even get that.”

We batted around some ideas while he walked on his hands, then we let it rest.

A little while later, he piped up, “I was watching some of those other kids today. They were really good. And I saw that I needed a little more bend in my back to walk on my hands for longer. And I tried it, and it worked.” He was beaming from inside.

Ah – that was why he was incessantly walking on his hands. It was a newfound skill. AND, it was something hugely positive he got out of being part of the competition that had nothing to do with the actual events.

I was proud of him, AND I can relate. I feel like this cancer thing is hard and even if I do my personal best, I sometimes fall short in comparison to where I feel I should be. The progress I work hard to achieve often doesn’t look like much in the regular world. But, as I am immersed in the world of cancer, if I pay attention, I gain hugely positive insights and experiences that I may not have noticed if I were not immersed in this world, and they help me along the way.

As for J-man’s News Flash, he didn’t go with the hand-walking story. Instead, he told his class, “I was in a gymnastics meet. I got a trophy.” It was much easier to explain.

11 thoughts on “Indirect learning, and sharing

  1. I LOVE that he was able to take away something like that at his age. That is HUGE! You must be so proud! I love his determination and focus–a lot like his mom! What a gift you have given him!

  2. The details are always left up to the deliverer. Great lesson on life and working with people. But i’da let him walk on his hands with or without shoes on them. Peace, Marie!

  3. Exhibit a for Resilience installation 101. You write in such a beautiful way. As soon as Chemo is done, it should be on to book 1!!!

  4. I like the previous commenter’s idea; a book or exhibit celebrating resilience; in ourselves and our loved ones….
    I’ve been mulling over a quotation heard recently about a large victory is made up of many small victories over time………
    Thanks for sharing your son’s process.
    Hope to run into you soon at Tong Ren…

  5. A wonderful, beautifully written story Marie with a great tie-in to your (and many of our) cancer experiences! Being able to find happiness in accomplishments, both great and small & regardless of ideal hopes is a great way for everyone to live their lives with joy & contentment!

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