And the winner is…

IMG_0307My 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.

#4: Life is not a competition

desertIt’s time for yet another installment of Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate, where I offer advice to visitors whose search terms hit my blog. Today’s topic: “Life is not a competition.

Au contraire. Everything is a competition.

I think most of us accept that humans have always competed at the most basic level for sustaining items like food, shelter, or mates. But when you become a parent, you realize that as a species, we are meant to compete for everything, and that sibling rivalry is a manifestation of survival of the fittest.

My children compete for all-important things like:

  • The chicken breast with the fewest grill marks.
  • The front passenger seat. (I have seen them nearly come to blows over this one.)
  • The best seat for viewing the TV.
  • Junk food, should there be any in the house. (They will even unabashedly steal this from each other and then deny it in the face of overwhelming evidence.)
  • Who had the best grades/at bat/season.
  • Who had the worst day/teacher/bout of strep.

And the list goes on. Feel free to add to it.

As a parent, my role seems to be to vindicate whichever party gets to me first and/or award privileges based on completely arbitrary criteria. The loser just has to take their lumps.

I figure it’s good preparation for their later life in the workplace.

Read the series:

Anxiety dreams involving my kids 

How do I talk to my surly teen? 

I have only one child but laundry and housework never end

 

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.