Learned from Children: It Doesn't Have to Be a Competition

I love competition—as long as no one gets hurt.  I can cheer for my teams loudly and heartily, especially for my kids’ teams and for the Texas Longhorns. I can tell the refs what I think as well.

Steve is pretty competitive as well—but he is always looking at a game from a coach’s perspective.  When he coached soccer, he scouted and strategized and at halftime adjusted so we always put our strength where they were weakest.

Our daughter Debbie made everything a competition from a very early age.  Her kindergarten teachers suggested that she couldn’t win every game they played.  If she was going to the playground, it was a race to get there first.  Even picking up her room became a contest.  And if her soccer team was losing, she took personal responsibility to get the win.

Then God sent us Michelle.  It’s like He left out competition completely when He made her.  Which often frustrated Debbie, because she wanted someone to compete with.Michelle enjoyed a good game—but she was mostly interested in being with her sister or her friend.  And she would sometimes join in Debbie’s contests—because she loved to be with her.

But winning was not such a priority for her.   Her relationships were the main thing.

Her six years of soccer illustrate this well.

She signed up to play soccer because Debbie played.  At 5 years old it wasn’t too competitive.  The next two years were fun because she made friends and no one knew who won.  And she was actually quite good—she played with skill and smarts.

But as she got older, she continued to play for two primary reasons:  to please her parents and to be with her friend, Karen.

Even though we told her she didn’t need to play soccer, she thought we wanted her to—it was what our family did.  And she loved to be with Karen.  Finally she believed we would be fine if she quit.  And she knew she could still be with Karen outside of soccer.So she quit!  And oh the joy!  The freedom! She began to focus on her art.  She discovered she loved encouraging and helping others.  Today she’s a counselor, encouraging and helping people.

Her non-competitive spirit has been challenged, though, since she married Tuscaloosa-born Brad, who is Crimson Tide through and through.  I have been amazed to see her ardently cheering for Alabama!

What about you?  How are you different from some of your family or friends?

C 2014 Judy Douglass