My children are competitive – really competitive. They come by it honestly. My husband and I have long since reconciled ourselves to the fact that we cannot play board games together. The opportunity for rapidly escalating, unseemly conflict is just too great.
My children feel no need to deescalate the tension. To them, everything is about winning, even if what they are trying to win isn’t worth the effort.
About once a day, I hear myself saying to my charming brood, “(Fill in the blank) is not a competition.” Which is just dead wrong. It’s all a competition. Where you sit in the car. Who gets the last piece of cornbread. Who gets to shower first. They even compete to see whose grades are the highest, although I gotta say, sometimes the bar is pretty low.
An urge to compete can be good. It can propel you to success others only dream of. It can spur you to excellence. Or it can just be darned annoying.
The other day, when I remarked, in response to a conflict, that “You people could make a competition out of tying your shoelaces,” my daughter replied, “And I would win that one for sure.”
And the other night, at the dinner table, my oldest son remarked, “I know this is not a competition to see who can eat the fastest, but if it were, I’d totally be winning it.”
To which my youngest child responded, pointing to his sister’s plate, “She didn’t finish hers, so there is no way I’m not going to ‘place’ tonight.”
That’s right, folks. At our dinner table it’s win, place, or show for the glory. For you slack others, it’s just the last of the dishes.
My kids seem unable to comprehend a world that is not about winning. When I took the photo to accompany this blog post, my oldest son, asked, “What is this for?”
“For a blog post on competition,” I said.
His next question? “What do you get if you win?”
Uh, I’m sorry son, that’s “on competition” not “in competition”. Unclear on the concept, I guess.