My wife, Leanne, is a little competitive. She always wins at Monopoly. Playing Scrabble with her makes my hair fall out (literally, tiles will be covered in little strands of hair, their lifespan cut short by the stress of not being able to form a word longer than four letters). She rarely backs down from a challenge and hates it when other people are doing things that she can’t do. It is one of the things I love about her. Her competitiveness really comes out when she sees someone else doing something that she hasn’t done and knows she can.
This is not good news for our daughter.
As a parent, it is hard to check yourself from comparing your kid to all the other kids or to what the books tell you your child should be doing. Walking, talking, crawling, eating the right foods, making the right gestures, they all need to be done on a very strict timetable. Put enough pressure on yourself and your kid and they are going to end up one of those kids that cries when they get an A- and then an adult with massive performance anxiety. We know this and Leanne and I both try to keep ourselves from getting too carried away, but, it isn't hard to lose yourself. And remember, Leanne is a little competitive. I mean, she read somewhere that you can start toilet training after 12 months – the next day Olive had a little toilet in her bedroom.
The other day Leanne was at the playground with Olive and there happened to be two other moms there with their little girls. Both girls were within a month of Olive’s age, but they were doing things that Olive hasn’t even attempted. They were shooting down the slide on the tummy, getting to the bottom and heading for another run. They were climbing up steps. They were, in almost every way, dominating the playground. These kids were the Lance Armstrong and Tom Brady of playgrounds and Olive was just sort of standing and watching, every once and a while pausing to try and eat some woodchips.
Leanne got home and told me the story. The other kids were doing so much more than Olive. Their moms were letting them go down the twisty slide, by themselves! Leanne then promptly looked at our daughter and said, “Olive, we have some work to do. Let’s get practicing.”
God help us when Olive starts playing sports.