It’s hard when things don’t turn out the way you’d hoped they would; when you face defeat, be it big or small, not to feel defeated. My son faced, what felt like to him, a few big defeating moments one day at the start of the school year this year. In the grand scheme of things, these defeats were neither defining, nor were really that big at all. But in his pre-teen, post-COVID, new-normal world, these little bumps on the road seemed like major roadblocks.
While I employed all the usual parenting tactics with him – we talked about why the events had gone the way they had, if there was anything he could have done to prepare himself better, if there was anything he could do to prevent these sorts of things from happening again – it turned out that this wasn’t what he was looking for from me.
That night, as I was saying goodnight, he asked me to sit in his room with him; he wasn’t ready to put these events behind him and he wanted, not platitudes from me, but for me to listen to him as he wallowed in his feelings. And so we sat and talked about how bad it feels when we face defeat, and how it can be hard to move on. But then I asked him:
What is the silver lining?
This is a little trick I’ve been trying to use myself of late; when things don’t go the way I’d hoped, I try to find the silver lining in the situation. So I thought I’d try it out with my son. At first, he told me that there were no silver linings. That the situation, and his feelings about it, were all so bad, that there was no good to be found. But as we kept talking, funnily enough, we did manage to come up with a few little pieces of good, and slowly, the silver lining started to take shape.
Facing defeat is never easy. And whether those defeats are big, or small, it’s hard not to feel defeated and deflated. But perhaps if we start to look for the shreds of good in these defeats, and try to slowly knit these shreds of good together, we can create our very own silver lining.
As the school year has progressed, it’s safe to say that my motto has become “but what’s the silver lining”. It’s a catchphrase I think my kids are getting sick of hearing (as indicated by their eye rolls and other facial expressions). But I’m not! And If there’s one thing I’ll be glad to have taught them it’s that defeats will happen, and they don’t feel great, but that you can always, always, look for the good in the situation; you can always look for the silver lining.