In an age where showing up gets rewarded, I was really glad my son won nothing for not winning.

Rockley is my 7 year-old. He's been taking ninja class at 605 Ninja for the last year. He loves it. Even though it isn't baseball or football, my favorite sports, I'm glad he loves it. That wasn't always the case.

After taking the class for seven months we encouraged him to do a competition. He didn't want to. He was afraid it would be too hard and he would fail. After some sweet talking by his coaches he decided to do the local competition. He did well and won his first competition. He got a gold medal, some other prizes and was so proud. The second time he competed he was a very close second place. Again, a he got a medal and prizes.

On Saturday he participated in a competition that was part of a regional series. Talent from out of town came to try to lock down a spot in the finals this December in the Twin Cities. Because of the heightened competition, the course was more challenging. Despite this he did great. If not for his warn out slippery tennis shoes, which I thought we had just purchased but were a bit old, he would not have had to settle for scaling the 8-foot wall and would have got full points for the 10-foot wall. He also fell off of the last obstacle of the course, which was was pretty tough and he had never done it before. He collected 25 of 30 points and got 7th place out of 19 boys in the 6-7 year old division.

He didn't get anything except that nagging pain of failure. Everyone, no matter how long their parents shield them from it or how many participation ribbons they get for trying, eventually loses and gets nothing. I'm just glad my son had it happen at a younger age.

My daughter Jackie plays softball and has two trophies and a medal. The two trophies were for showing up. One of them holds an old ball and the other holds her necklaces. They are nothing more than souvenirs. She told me the medal means much more to her, even though it has no inscription of the year or team or league. She knows exactly what it is from because it is special. That team battled back and won a league championship. I remember it because it was the summer her mom went through breast cancer treatment. I also remember that Rockley's ninja coach, Jason, was also a coach of Jackie's victorious softball team.

Rockley took his first ninja failure well. He didn't cry when his name wasn't called to the stand but I could see it on his face that he didn't like it. There was no medal to add to his collection this time. No consolation prize. Just the fuel of failure to help him succeed next time.

But mostly he just wanted chicken nuggets when it was done.