Don’t “throw” in the towel
Hello and thanks for stopping by! I have an exciting story to share with you today. At my school, we have this big school-wide sporting event called Field Day. It happens every year towards the end of the school year. Field Day is a day-long athletic competition. There are lots of events you’ve probably heard of before, like relay races, high jump, long jump, sack races, etc.
For sixth graders, the top two winners for certain events go on to compete at District Field Day. That’s a special “best of the best” competition from each of the ten schools in our school district.
I entered a bunch of District Field Day-eligible events at my school. The only one I really cared about was the girls’ softball throw. Guess what? I came in first! That meant I would advance to the District Field Day competition. As you can imagine, I was super excited to qualify for District Field Day.
But unfortunately for me, things didn’t go quite according to the plan.
From my District Field Day experience, I learned a big lesson: Even when things don’t go according to your Plan A, there are still twenty-five other letters in the alphabet. In other words, when everything seems like it’s going wrong, it’s only a matter of time before things will eventually go right. Even if it ends up being your Plan Z. Stay tough through tough times!
So let me tell you what happened…
District Field was scheduled for Friday afternoon at four pm. My mom said that she’d pick me up as soon as she finished teaching (she’s a junior high school teacher). My school ends at three pm; her school is done at three-fifteen. The junior high school is about a ten-minute drive from my school. For those of you doing the math, I’d have to wait twenty-five minutes for my mom to get me.
Assuming everything went according to plan, I would still have plenty of time to spare before Field Day started (the location wasn’t far away). It didn’t occur to me that maybe things wouldn’t go according to the plan.
At three-thirty, I decided to wait on the front steps of my school. That way, I’d be ready as soon as my mom pulled up. I cracked open my book and tried reading. It was kind of hard because I couldn’t stop thinking about Field Day. When I wasn’t checking my watch, I was looking at the road. I kept hoping to see my mom’s car pull into the parking lot.
Three-thirty-five came. But there was no sign of my mom. She probably had to grab some papers or something, I thought to myself. I wondered if maybe I could run to District Field Day. Probably not a good idea. I better sit tight.
Five more minutes passed. No sign of my mom. This wasn’t good. My mom wasn’t usually late. Things really weren’t going according to the plan.
The race for time
I went back inside the school to see if maybe my mom had called. The principal’s assistant said that their phone hadn’t rung. (She assured me that the phones were indeed working when I asked if maybe they were broken.)
I headed back outside. With each minute, I became more upset. I wasn’t going to make it to District Field Day on time.
Finally, at three-fifty-five, my mom finally came. I was beyond mad at her.
“How could you be so late?” was the first thing I said (err, yelled) to her. I was so angry I didn’t even say hello or ask if something was wrong. All I could think about was how things most certainly weren’t going according to the plan.
“I am so sorry,” my mom said. “There was an emergency at school. I couldn’t leave on time. Then I got stuck behind a garbage truck.” I fumed at my mother for the entire car ride. She drove as fast as she could to District Field Day. But it wasn’t fast enough.
I was all out of sorts when we finally arrived at District Field Day. We were several minutes late. Worst of all, we saw that the softball throw competition had already begun. Why couldn’t things have just gone according to the plan? What was I going to do now?
Number one thing was that I needed to calm down. I couldn’t change what had happened. But what was in my control now? It didn’t look like much.
Trying my hand
“Don’t give up,” my mom said. (She is part mindreader, I think.) “I know Mrs. M. She’s the teacher in charge of the softball throw competition.” Without hesitating, my mom grabbed my hand and dragged me over to Mrs. M.
“Mrs. M, it’s so good to see you,” my mother said. “My daughter is entered into the softball throw competition. Unfortunately, I was unable to pick her up from school on time. Is there any way she could join the competition even though it’s already started? It’s completely my fault that she’s late.”
Mrs. M. looked over at the girls who were already competing. More than half had already gone.
“Hmmm. We’re almost finished with the first round,” Mrs. M. said. “But, sure, we can squeeze her in.” Mrs. M. motioned for me to join the back of the line. I didn’t want to waste another second, so I ran and took my place behind a tall girl.
Even though things hadn’t gone according to the plan, competing late was better than not competing at all.
When it was my turn to throw, I hurled the ball as far as I could. I don’t know if it was because my anger hadn’t completely disappeared, or if I just had a sudden burst of energy. Either way, the ball sailed down the field.
Wouldn’t you know it? I had thrown the ball the farthest. Suddenly, I was in first place! Finally, something had gone according to the plan. Well, to my plan, that is.
“Not fair,” I heard one of the girls in the line say. “She came late. Now I’m in second place.”
A few of the other girls also complained about my late arrival.
Mrs. M. immediately spoke up. “The rules of the softball throw are simple: whoever throws the ball farthest is the winner. There’s nothing in the rules that say you can’t participate if you joined late. Especially if it’s your mom’s fault.” Mrs. M. winked in my mother’s direction.
“She threw the ball the farthest, fair and square,” the girl in line behind me said. When I turned to her and smiled, she said, “I’m K, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, K,” I said. “Good luck.” We all had our second throws. Once again, I threw the ball as hard as I could. It was a good throw, but not great. My first throw was better. K’s throw, on the other hand, went pretty far. She moved into second place.
After everyone had their final turns, they tallied up the scores. I had been able to hold the lead. I had thrown the softball the farthest!
Mrs. M. declared that I was the winner. K, the good sportsman, came in second place. The grumbly girl came in third. We all got medals, but only mine was the gold medal.
I congratulated all the kids in the competition. Only the grumbly girl refused to shake my hand. Guess the competition hadn’t gone according to her plan.
Better late than never
Although I wish I hadn’t been late, my District Field Day experience taught me an important lesson.
While everything leading up to the event had gone horribly wrong, eventually, things started going right: Mrs. M. let me participate after the event started; I made a new friend in K, the second-place winner; and, most of all, my throwing arm didn’t fail me. Plus, now I have a great Field Day medal that hangs in my bedroom.
I guess you could say that even though things didn’t start out the way I imagined, the day finally went according to the plan.
Have you ever had an experience where things went wrong, but eventually turned out alright? Please share your story with me in the comments section!