This week I was able to volunteer at my oldest son’s school holiday party. While I am extremely grateful I get to be a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes miss my days working in mental health with children and adolescents. I loved my job as an elementary school counselor and third grade was always my favorite age. So when I was asked to run the Bingo game in a 3rd-grade classroom I was excited to be able to help.
For one hour, the entire grade of 8 and 9-year-olds rotated in and out of the classroom. I had so much fun calling out the bingo games, seeing their excitement grow, and giving out prizes. It reminded me of why I have always loved being around children. Children are so much better at being in the present as well as sharing their emotions authentically. When they shout out with joy, the feeling is contagious. I also adore spending time with children because we can learn so much from them- if we are paying attention.
As one class after another came to play bingo, I was struck with an observation that felt important. While I had enough prizes for all of the students, they initially did not know that they would each get a prize at the end. The BINGO boards had five spaces across and five spaces down, and I started to notice two types of children playing. The first kind got visibly more and more upset if they did not win, sometimes whining and complaining. One little girl proclaimed dramatically, “I never win ANYTHING! I am so unlucky.” We had only been playing for five minutes. And then there was the other kind of kid- the ones who got ONE chip on their board, and excitedly shouted, “I ONLY need four more to win!!!” These children had a blast playing, the entire time, regardless of winning or losing. I imagine these children carry this quality with them throughout their days, whether they are playing BINGO, soccer, taking a test, or trying a new challenge. What an amazing quality to have.
As a child, what kind of BINGO player were you? Personally, I spent the majority of my life an eternal pessimist. This view on life not only fuels anxiety and depression, but it also steals the joy out of the present. Whether it is nature or nurture that shapes this personality characteristic is irrelevant. What matters more is that we do have a CHOICE at how we view our situations. And we also serve as role models for the children in our lives. Going through recovery from an eating disorder has given me so many precious gifts that enrich my life. The practice of gratitude and the ability to focus on the POSITIVES in siutations is one of the largest of these gifts. So the next time I am feeling unlucky, resentful, or whiny, I am going to remind myself of the BINGO game and ask myself which kind of player in life I am choosing to be. I challenge you to do the same.