Note on The Competitive Spirit

We took the boys out to run some errands a few days ago. They rode their bikes and Micah and I split up to stay close to one or the other. Manchild is learning to use his brakes and not taking quite so long to get started after stopping, while Squish is getting the hang of propelling the balance bike by himself. Just a few weeks ago he needed me or Micah to push him if he were going to go anywhere.

When we got home I told the boys I thought they’d done a great job riding their bikes, that they were both improving a lot, and I was happy that they seemed to be having such a good time learning to ride.

To which Manchild responded, “But who do you think did better at riding their bike?”

“You both did well. I think you both were doing the best that you can for your ability level.”

“But who do you think did better?”

“Well, you did really well because you are learning to use the brakes better and you’re getting better at steering, and he did really well because just a few weeks ago he could hardly get the bike to move and now he doesn’t need any help to go.”

“But did I do better, or did he do better?”

“It’s not a competition, Buddy. I can’t really compare you two because you are two different abilities. You both did really well for what your bodies are able to do.”

“But . . . ”

I think it may take a while, but someday we’ll learn that competition has very little to do with being better than everyone – or anyone – else, and everything to do with being motivated to do and be your own best. (Myself included.)

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