Mummy, I am a Loser – Four Lessons For Life and Business

FamilyOn Friday 28 February 2014, I was all geared up for the “Mini Olympics” organized by my twins’ school – Tender Cradle School, holding at the Agege Stadium Complex. We were all excited, Mum, Dad, Temi and Tami. We had been preparing for this day since January. Tami was representing Argos House (Green) in the 25 meters Tiny Toes Race and Temi was representing Athens House (Blue) in the 50 meters Tiny Toes Race. Every Monday and Friday, the school would go to the open ground just opposite my office complex and practice.

Since the beginning of the term, they also learnt everything about the Olympic games. They came home with homework on the history of games and I was surprised with the level of knowledge my 4-year olds had about the games. Some of these questions include:

Tender Cradle School

• The Olympic games takes place every _________ years.
• The Olympic flag has __________ rings.
• What are the colours of the rings on the Olympic flag?
• Why is it good to prepare for the Olympic games?
• Which country did the Olympic games start from?
• Mention five types of Olympic games.
• What are the colours of the medals given at the Olympic games?
• What is the name of the object lit in Greece before the commencement of the Olympic games in the host country?
• How many people lift the Olympic torch round the cities before it gets to the final destination?
• Where is the final destination of the Olympic torch?
• Mention the last three cities that hosted the Olympics games?
• Which city/country will host the next Olympic games?
• How many African countries participated in the London Olympic games?
• What was the reward the ancient Greeks use during the Olympic games?
• What is the reward given in the modern Olympics?
• Which position does each medal represent?

KinestheticsAs far as preparation was concerned, the twins were ready intellectually and physically. They got up early, had light breakfast and we were ready to win medals.

I particularly enjoyed the kinesthetic, school band, match past, the football finals amongst others.

The moment I was waiting for was the Race —- the Tiny Toes Race and it finally came.

Starting Line 25m TT RaceFirst up was the 25 meters Tiny Toes Race with Tami. During the practice sessions, Tami had always come fourth. She was the smallest in the race but I was looking forward to cheering her on and motivating her to finish the race with her head high no matter her position. The whistle blew and off they all went…. Tami in the fourth position but I kept cheering her on. Then one of the kids fell and Tami came out in third position.


Starting Line 50m TT RaceSecond up was the 50 meters Tiny Toes Race with Temi but something happened that was going to change the game. Because of the girl that had fallen in the 25 meters race, the officials concluded that it was because the kids were running on the stadium tracks for the first time, they should remove their shoes. I was furious….Why? Temi is my ballerina baby. Once her shoes go off, she tends to tip toe. During the practice sessions, Temi had always come first, but with this change, I didn’t know what to expect. The whistle blew and off they all went…. Tami in the first position but she was running on her toes …..and the worst happened, she fell. She got up and I cheered her on to finish the race. Running is what Temi is great at doing and she was unable to get a medal. As a mother, I was sad but I didn’t show it just to encourage my baby.

PodiumAfter all the races came the award ceremony and Tami was called on the podium to receive her Bronze medal. Tami insisted she would remove her shoes like Temi as a way of sympathising with her sister.

Spectators SeatI looked over at the spectators seat and saw Temi watching her twin sister receiving her medal looking very sad. Thereafter Temi came over to our side and told me she wanted us to go home immediately. Feeling her disappointment, I called her Dad, Tami and we all got into the car to go home. The whole car was quiet and Temi said something that broke my heart “Mummy, I am a Loser”.

Immediately, I knew that my role as a parent had to set in. It was my opportunity to teach my 4-year olds what we as Africans do not like to admit – FAILURE. It’s a topic that scares us. Our parents never admitted to failure. They were always first position in their class and I used to wonder if anyone ever came second, third or last position. In fact, most of us were taught that making mistakes was a very bad thing and there were unpleasant consequences.

To the best of my ability, I tried to explain in simple terms what had just happened. The following formed part of my explanation and I believe they can also form lessons for your life and business:

  1. The need for preparation. The twins had prepared for this competition on all fronts – intellectually and physically. They were on a mission…to win a medal.
  2. The case for using the right assumptions. The open grounds that the school had used for practice was very different from the track at the stadium. Kids kept falling because of the new environment. The school should have had a pre-event warm-up at the stadium to practice on the tracks so they can get used to the environment.
  3. The role of outside influence. The officials had made all the kids in the 50 meters Tiny Toes Race to remove their shoes. This was not right. I explained to Temi the implications of that action and analysed the reason for her fall.
  4. Learn from your mistakes and failure. Temi later came out of this sober mood when we got home and was able to understand what really happened. She later came back to me to say, “Mummy I am not a Loser, uncle removed my shoes and the floor was bouncing. Next time I will tell uncle to leave my shoes and I will win the gold medal. Its OK, Tami won a medal and she says she will share with me”. It was only after this statement that I knew that I had passed on a great lesson to my daughter to — Learn from her mistakes and failure. Making mistakes is not a big deal as long as she learns from them and avoid repeating them. No matter how often she fails, she is not a failure as long as she doesn’t give up. I believe that in the next competition, she will definitely come home with a medal.

How would you have handled this situation? What would you have done or said differently? What other lessons can you draw from this event for your life or business?
Leave your comment.

To your success,

Olanrewaju Oniyitan