Coming in Second: A First World Problem

In our house, we've gotten into the habit of countering certain types of complaining and/or whining with “First world problem.”

This phrase has made its way into our lexicon, and it’s really just another way of pointing out that we should be thankful for our good fortune, without sounding all churchy.

The Fifth Grader could return from living in a mud hut for a year eating only bugs and would still complain about not having enough candy or enough cable channels to watch. One day he’ll get it, I’m sure.

After yesterday, I am fairly certain that my middle dude gets it. What could have turned into a day-long whine-fest was actually a lesson in humility, gratitude and good humor.

The asthmatic 12-year-old decided to run in a 5-mile race yesterday, while I ran the more reasonable 5K. After sizing up his competition, he knew he was about to win in his age group, and walk away with a $20 cash prize, which would have bought him the new fishing rod he’d been eyeing.

But as he turned the corner towards the finish line, he stopped running and proceeded to puke. And as he was doing so, he watched as the kid who’d been trailing him for the past 50 minutes ran past him and across the finish line, beating the barfer by just a few seconds.

Now, I don’t know how things work in your family, but this here scenario could be the recipe for a disastrous day. But somehow he managed to keep things in perspective and actually told the story all day to everyone he saw, getting more laughs with each telling.

I hope my kids know that keeping things in perspective and being grateful gives me more pride than winning a race. Knowing the difference between a first world problem and an actual problem is a skill that will always serve you well.

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