Gracie is on the swim team this year. She had her first official “meet” yesterday where she did the backstroke and the breaststroke. She did great! Here she is proudly displaying her first place ribbons!
I didn’t grow up in a competitive environment. My sister and I are both far from what you could consider “competitive” by nature. I mean, we’re human, of course, but overall, we’re rarely interested in “beating out” someone else. There were things we did well, and my parents encouraged us to succeed, but overall they fell more in the “winning would be great, but it’s not a big deal” category.
I was on the swim team a few summers, and Amanda danced on the drill team in high school, but aside from that, we each only played one organized “sport” growing up (I was 5th grade basketball, and she was freshman volleyball), and in both cases our dad ended up in an argument with the coach over our “sitting the bench” (I don’t remember if Amanda was any good, but I’m quite sure I was horrible). So… needless to say, we probably get our noncompetitive nature from our mom.
In sharp contrast, Trav is very competitive. He grew up playing every sport under the sun, and typically excelled at it. His family strongly encouraged a competitive spirit, and winning was most definitely a big deal. While Trav has mellowed some in his old age, our overall views on what might be “healthy competition” is just one of the many ways Trav and I are total opposites. Another would be how I typically go through life preparing for the worst, and Trav assumes the worst will never come. It can get interesting. So… it will perhaps be a challenge for us as we navigate the sporting adventures of our children. I tend to foster the “just do your best” attitude. Trav agrees with that wholeheartedly, but he just can’t get around the feeling that winning is more fun.
So, as we were getting ready for the swim meet yesterday, I honestly didn’t expect Gracie to win… I mean, this is her first run at swim team, and she still uses a floatation device. But at the meet, of course, the kids compete in age groups, and much to my surprise, Gracie won first place in her age bracket (where almost all the kids used floatation devices) swimming the backstroke and the breaststroke.
She had been saying all day how she wanted to win, and I had just encouraged her to do her best and we’d be proud. I secretly hoped that while we were cheering for her, she might not notice if she didn’t win. I figured she’d get a participation ribbon or something along those lines, and that she’d be thrilled with that. Good enough.
Well… she won, and she knew it. At the end of the meet, the coach handed out all the ribbons, and on the way home Gracie was immediately questioning Trav as to why the ribbons were different colors. Trav told her what place each ribbon color represented adding, of course, that the blue ribbons she had won were for first place. Gracie sat smiling in the back seat knowing that hers was the best.
I, however, sat stewing in the front seat giving Trav the evil eye thinking about how upset Gracie might be at the next swim meet if she got a red ribbon, or a pink one, or heaven forbid a white one… and now, after clearly insinuating that the blue ribbon was the best, just what was he going to say to her then?? Later that night, I asked Trav that very question, and of course, his response was: “Don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll win next time too.”