Tuesday, November 06, 2012
First or Last
I'm not talking about coming in first place in a race or a competition. First place is what people should strive for. It's an indicator of who's the best at something. But why does this carry over to entirely inconsequential events?
So many of the kids I work with get completely bent out of shape if they're not first in line to go to the gym or don't get to go first when playing Pictionary. Why should any of that matter?
The kid at the front of the line gets to the gym about half a second sooner than the kid behind them. They get there about 10 seconds before the kid at the end of the line, depending on the size of the class. The thing is, everyone gets to the same place.
Why throw a fit if you're not first in line? You think if you're stuck somewhere in the middle you'll get to PE and the gym won't be there anymore?
It probably doesn't help that grown-ups perpetuate the belief that the closer you are to the front, the better off you are. After all, I remember being sent to the back of the line being used as an acceptable punishment for shoving or talking in the hallway. If you're at the back of the line, you've obviously been bad.
Now let's take a look at getting to go first when playing games. Is there any kind of correlation between going first and winning a game? Have any studies been done on this subject? I looked on the interweb and wasn't able to find anything definitive. So I can only give my opinion and a guess. I really don't think it matters because everyone has an equal chance to take a turn. Winning a board game has more to do with chance and skill than with turn order.
But the kids still whine and complain about not going first. They cry about how unfair it is. What's worse, I've noticed that adults really don't grow out of this attitude. Did you watch the recent presidential debates? If there had been a drinking game based on a candidate complaining about their turn, one could have easily walked away from the event hammered. Okay, they probably couldn't have walked away easily... stumbled would be more likely. But you get what I'm saying? These are the guys we're expected to choose to lead our nation. Are any of us really any more mature than your average first grader?
Seeing that kind of example, how are we expected to teach kids that going first doesn't matter? "It's not fair that I never get to go first!" whined a little girl in the classroom today. It would be so easy to sit her down, look her straight in the eye and tell her, point blank, "Life is not fair." It isn't fair. Life is just life. Some days you get to go first. Some days you get to go last. That doesn't make life any less enjoyable. It all comes down to what we choose to do with what we're given.
Did Buzz Aldrin complain about being the second man to walk on the moon? I don't think so. You know why? 'Cause he got to walk on the freakin' moon! Did Marty McFly whine about being the world's second time traveler? No! Well... he kind of complained because he got stuck in 1955 for a week. But he got to travel through time. In a flying DeLorean!
I believe it was the great Kenny Rogers who said that "every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser" when he sang about a gambler at the end of his life. Going first, third or last really doesn't matter and it doesn't matter what cards are dealt to you. Whether you win or lose is determined by how you play those cards. Whether you find success or not is determined by how you choose to live your life.
By the way, I was picked last in gym, more often than not. And I turned out just fine.