It was one of those times as a mother that my heart nearly fell out of my chest, it was so heavy.
Little Jack had been unwell for over three weeks with tonsillitis, so I was in high demand for cuddles and comfort. One night, as I was tucking the boys into bed, I kissed Tyson on the cheek and whispered, ‘I love you.’
He looked into my eyes and casually replied: ‘But you love Jack more.’
It wasn’t said with anger or disappointment. To him, this was just a fact. He saw me cuddling and nurturing Jack through his illness and drew a perfectly logical conclusion. It was crushing to hear him say it, though.
As every mother will tell you, I love my boys uniquely, because they are unique, but I love them both the same amount.
Directing the Instinct
Eating dinner tonight, both boys simultaneously decided they had finished and unceremoniously jumped off their chairs and fled into the lounge room. Phil and I blinked at each other, then he called out: ‘Who can finish their dinner the fastest?’
In a breath, both boys were back at the table, scoffing their lamb and peas down at breakneck speed. I was afraid they would choke!
‘Should we be encouraging this competitiveness?’ I asked.
‘We’re all born competitive,’ he said. ‘We just have to nurture our kids to harness it for good.’
According to this article in The Examiner, he’s spot on.
Recently, Auskick announced that all games played by under 10s were on a ‘scoring ban’ to encourage participation minus disappointment.
Look, my kids are only 2 and 3 1/2 and already, their competitive spirit is alive and well. I think it’s important to nurture it in a healthy way and teach them how to use it properly.
There are no ‘participation awards’ in real life, and teaching our kids their strengths and weaknesses is an important part of growing up and finding out where you fit in.
Finding Your Strengths
In my time playing soccer, I started out in the midfield and I was terrible — always the first to be subbed off, and spent my time on-field running aimlessly. I came close to quitting, until my coach tried me in the ‘left back’ position; all of a sudden, I was MVP! There’s nothing more exhilarating than discovering your niche.
Any Olympian or successful businessperson will tell you that their skills, gifts and weaknesses were only revealed through facing hardships and looking at what their competitors were doing better.
Also, some of the greatest displays of sacrifice have occurred in highly competitive environments; an Olympic runner trips over mid-race, and two of his competitors stop in their tracks and walk back to help him up. That’s the true competitive spirit we need to nurture in our kids.
I’ll never forget in year 6 when our teacher said: ‘Put up your hand if you’re not good at anything.’ Guess what… no one put their hand up.
The truth is, everyone is good at something. You just have to figure out what it is and how to help others along the way. And a bit of healthy competition might be just what you need to do it!