A light rain was falling as the young children returned from recess on the playground. This is the Pacific Northwest. If children can’t play in the rain, they don’t get outdoor recess for most of the school year.
So I watched as they huddled near the door in all their rain gear and spoke with great animation to their teacher. What could they be so excited about?
Most were standing under the overhang with the teacher. Only one child still stood in the rain. The hood of her raincoat lying on her shoulders and back, she seemed to be running rainwater through her hair as if standing in a bathroom shower. All of this behavior made me curious. So I approached the group to find out what was going on.
Finally close enough to hear what the teacher and her students were saying, I became amused. The children were showing the teacher how wet their hair was, each claiming to be the wettest. With great enthusiasm, the teacher listened to their boasts; inspected each head; and managed to come up with more creative ways of saying “yep, it’s wet” than any Pulitzer Prize winning author, even though none of the heads were actually very wet at all.
The children were thrilled and proud. All of them, that is, except the little girl still pantomiming washing her hair in the shower. She, it seemed clear, was a classic overachiever. Her goal was to get as much water as possible into her hair while her classmates were boasting to the teacher underneath the overhang. The whole scene made me laugh out loud.
As the teacher herded everyone back to their classroom – no doubt to remove wet raincoats and use a forest of paper towels drying hands, hair and faces – I went on about my business. Walking back across the playground, it occurred to me how little rain was actually falling. Yet all of these children were bragging about who was the wettest and competing for the title. How often, I wondered, have I competed in life to become the most miserable?
• Can you turn lemons into lemonade?
• Do you ever compete for the title of possessing the most lemons?
• Have you ever tried to get attention by actually making your situation worse?
• What will you do the next time life rains during your recess?