23 Aug The anomaly of celebrating personal achievement.. a lesson from my 8 year old
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Eleanor Roosevelt
As soon as you become a parent, you immediately feel the overwhelming responsibility of “teaching” important lessons to your child. In the wake of it all, you don’t realize how much you are going to be taught from this little person who has experienced much less life thus far then you. My children are now 8, 6, 4 and 2- I have two boys and two girls and not one of them is alike in personality (although their physical resemblance is pretty undeniable). Often my husband and I will talk about their personality traits and try to pinpoint where they inherited them from, especially the “unique ones.”
Although you could say my husband and I are quite different in our personalities, one trait that we do share is our competitiveness, especially when it comes to sports. Without going to in depth on this one, I’ll just give you a little example. Both of us have always been heavily involved in sports growing up. Now that our “team sports” days are behind us, we both are into running and biking. A couple of years ago, being busy parents who don’t get alot of alone time, we thought we would spend an afternoon together and go for a bike ride. My parents agreed to babysit, so off we went…well off he went. What was supposed to be some “connection time” turned into a game of survival of the fittest. My husband literally raced out the driveway and used his “hockey legs” to power up the hill away from me. When I got to the top all I could see was the blue of his shirt in the distance and well….I got mad. I kept going, swearing under my breath and preparing my post bike ride “what the hell?”….until several km’s later I noticed I was gaining on him. Carrying on, I soon realized he was stopped completely on the side of the road. Initially thinking he decided to stop and wait for me, I eased up on the choice words I had picked for him and started to feel bad about the tell off I had planned. As I got closer, I noticed he was bent over his bike trying to fix his chain that had come off during his Olympic pursuit. Realizing that his decision to pull over was due to mechanical difficulty and not that of deciding to wait for his wife, my competitive blood started to warm up again. I kicked it into high gear and instead of pulling over to see if he could figure out his chain, I sped past him without saying a word. For real. I then grew so determined to make it home before him, I literally hauled ass like I was being chased, all the way home. For the record, I did beat him home…but our afternoon of connecting was a total bust. In fact, I don’t think we spoke for about an hour after.. You could say it was not our finest moment and well, incredibly ridiculous and immature (we haven’t biked together since), mind you I did sell my bike when I got pregnant with #4… I digress….
Enter the anomaly of my oldest son Cole. My energizer bunny who does.not.get.tired.ever….. and who does not have a competitive bone in his body. It fascinates me that he could be born from crazy biker #1 and crazy biker #2. Just last week, Cole decided without any probing that he would like to enter a local kids triathlon. He and I had gone for a bike ride the previous weekend and after learning about a triathlon I had done years earlier, he thought he would like to do one too. All week he got up in the morning and did a little routine of biking out our laneway, a little running loop through the woods and then jumping in our 10 ft long pool for a few laps. It was crazy cute.
On race day, I think John and I were more nervous than he was. I really, truly didn’t care how he did, I was just worried about something going wrong and him never wanting to do anything like that again. So the race started and off he went, focusing in great detail on every stroke and making sure he took big breaths. He was one of the last ones out of the pool but he didn’t seem to notice, he just sprinted as fast as he could to his bike with the hugest grin on his face. Upon picking up his bike, he resumed his look of focus and did not avert his eyes left or right the entire course. Literally, he reminded me of a race horse with blinders on so they don’t get spooked by the horse next to him, except he didn’t even need them. I watched as bikers would pass him and he literally did not even glance their way. It was like he was in a trance. I looked over at John, who was equally in awe, knowing that if he was out there himself, he would of been looking to ‘pick off’ bikers one at time, half killing himself in the process.. The run was the same, he ran his heart out, focusing his eyes only on the finish and finally, was presented with his “kids of Steel triathlon medal.” He was a triathlete and he was proud beyond! My heart melted watching him, literally melted.
What was the most incredible though, was what he said to me that night when everyone else in the house was gone to bed (even triathlons don’t make him tired, I swear). He said “I get nervous when I focus on what other people are doing and I thought if I paid attention to them it might make me fall of my bike..so I just pretended I was the only person out there and I thought about all the things that I like- like my friends, my family and pancakes. I’m just so proud I accomplished it Mom and I just feel so happy.” Boom. My heart exploded in a million pieces and it makes me cry just writing this.
I can say after years of being crazy competitive with myself, I have mellowed ALOT and can say my perspectives have changed a great deal. I still believe passionately in working hard for what you want and going after it with fervour, but if you miss out on the fun because of that, what the heck is the point?? Cole’s unique approach to sports and life may be so different than that of his parents growing up, but I think he’s got it figured out way better than us. Everyone is unique. Everyone has different walks, paths and approaches to every start line in sport and life therefore, measuring your performance against that of another should never be your marker. To get to where you are going, and be happy, it’s incredibly important to celebrate your wins (big and small), your successes and the process. Got up for your first early morning workout? Amazing!!! Did your first ever 5km? Incredible!!! Learned how to fill up your gas tank by yourself? Shout it out!!! Why wouldn’t you be happy finishing your first triathlon, figuring out how to do an e transfer for the first time, or doing a push up? You are freaking awesome!!!!!! I really believe Coles approach can take him wherever he wants to go in life, but most importantly, I think it will allow him to be happy in the journey. As a parent, what more could I want?
So freaking proud of you buddy! Thanks for the reminder.