I’ve never really been one to compete with others (myself maybe, but not others). I’ve always felt a bit separate. I don’t want to have the newest car or biggest house. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things, I just like them for me, rather than because someone says I should.
I’ve also never pushed my kids to compete. All four are very different, they each have their own strengths and I don’t ever want them to feel that they are compared to each other or to anyone else. I remember often being the odd one out because I didn’t want to compare the grades my kids were getting with my friends kids. The thing was that they were five or six then, too little to know what they should or shouldn’t be achieving. The same thing applies now though, whether they’re doing their GCSEs, learning to walk or learning to drive, they are all individuals, capable of so much, but sometimes hindered when they hear throw away comments.
I remember being told I’d need to toughen up because I was so sensitive. I don’t think that’s always true though. I think it’s more the case that adults should think about their words and actions. It’’s all too easy to snap and say something, but we are shaping the lives of our young people, and what they see and hear is what they will model back to us.
Growing up, I never felt like I fitted into the right box. I’m a bit messy you see, not in the way I clean my house, but in the way I approach life. I’ve never ticked the right boxes. It’s taken me until now to realise that the way I am doesn’t make me wrong, it makes me interesting.
I’m at the running track as I write this. It’s a beautiful sunny evening and the club are training in front of me. It’s interesting to see the different perceptions of the parents here. Clearly they all want their children to do the best they can, but equally I’d hope they’d want them to enjoy themselves too. At least that’s what I want. As much as Barn enjoys competing I don’t think there would be any point if he didn’t also enjoy his time with the team, and running itself of course.
As I watched, one parent approached the railing to tell their two children that they weren’t putting enough effort in, and were chatting too much. This comment was followed up by a correction on their foot placement. It seemed so negative, and I understand the feeling to want your kids to do well, but this was during the warm-ups, and if they can’t chat to their team then, well when can they? They’re so young. Meanwhile Barn was stretching while chatting to his mates that are in his pod. (They’re in small pods for Covid reasons). There’s six of them and while they’re taking it seriously it’s nice to see them enjoying themselves too.
One child in particular is rather over-confident and it’s a bit painful to watch them try to compare themselves to others, to tear them down in order to build themselves up. While in some ways I don’t blame them, they obviously need the constant reassurance to make themselves feel good, it’s interesting to see that while they have the support of the coaches, this one child is always alone. That bravado hasn’t gained any extra friends and in fact possibly just pushed the team further away. It’s a shame the individual doesn’t see that.
So, I’m not sure what the right thing is exactly, but I’ll continue to do what I’m doing. I’ll be myself, and encourage my kids to do the same, but in the same way, I’ll remind them to be patient and understated with others as much as possible, to be themselves while remembering that we are all different, and that in itself is okay.