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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Competition


Yesterday afternoon as I was painting the girls nails (we've decided my nail shop slogan should be "Mom's Nails, where your nails will always look just ok") one of the girls said that girls are born knowing how to sit still for nails and boys are born knowing how to play sports.  UGH!  I assured her that is not true and they both agreed that they knew that but sometimes it feels like that.    This led to a conversation about sports and competition.  It quickly became evident that the girls both feel that being competitive is a bad thing.  I told them competition is a great, that the definition of competitive as an adjective is a desire to succeed.  They both gave me examples of girls that they feel are competitive, they brag and are rather obnoxious in their pursuit to WIN!
Emma said, "It's like there's two ways to be, mean and crazy about winning or you don't care, there's nothing in between".  I was stunned that at 9 she already feels this way but her comment totally resonated with me, a person who for years has thought things like "I don't have competitive bone in me".  I remember feeling the same way about competition and I guess I was about Emma's age when I decided I wanted nothing to do with that kind of behavior.  A competitive girl is often seen as bossy, aggressive and mean.
Last night we had dinner out with a group of friends and a number of times we were told just how sweet, thoughtful and well behaved our girls were.  They are naturally this way but they also work hard at these behaviors. As I was laid in bed going over the day I thought about how much explicit teaching and modeling we have done so that our girls are well behaved.  How much teaching have we done so that they know how to be competitive?   I want the girls to know that it's ok to work for what THEY want, to have a desire to succeed and win.  It's a hard lesson because I never want them to have the attitude that winning means being better, or on some different level than other people.   Instead I want them to know the pursuit of excellence is everything and this looks different for every single person.  This desire to do their best will push them towards success and ultimately to their dreams. They'll learn over time that winning looks like all kinds of things and most of the time there's no trophy or  even a score in sight.  I can say this because right now I'm totally winning and I'm the only one in the game.   I also want them to know that there is something in between, a way of being that allows them to be courteous and thoughtful but tough, hard working and focused.
I'm thankful for these little moments with my girls.  It's in these moments that I see the lessons we still need to teach and the wide open opportunities before us.

The girls and their cousin Bella.  Plus a photo bomb by Atril :)!



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