Of Pumpkins and Football

22 Oct

I am competitive. Often stupidly so.  Years ago I participated in a pumpkin carving contest.  I came up with a concept, the solar system, and had the idea to paint the pumpkin black and drill holes into it and have lights shine through like stars. I painted other planets on the pumpkin and the whole IDEA was awesome. Not so awesome when the idea came to fruition. It just didn’t look as cool as I thought it would because not only am I competitive, I tend to be rather lazy, so I did the thing half-assed then got annoyed because a far superior pumpkin won the contest. I can almost HEAR you guys growing out your beards to emulate my dream man, Zach Galifianakis, because I sound like such a catch.  Ah well, self-discovery isn’t pretty, and you guys get to come along for the ride.

It has been said that the qualities you find the most grating in your children are more than likely the ones you dislike about yourself. Maybe I’m the only one who’s ever said that, but I find it to be SO true. My boys are sarcastic laugh-seeking competitive little goofballs, and they don’t get that from their dad.

I grew up in a competitive household. My parents were huge Alabama football fans, my mom still is. My mom is strong and graceful. She is also the loudest person in the room when the game is on. She is absolutely rabid and a little bit scary.  I thought for years that the former coach of the University of Tennessee was named FAT PHIL, because my mother referred to him as such so often. This was the only time I ever heard her comment on anyone’s outward appearance.

Ideally I want to teach my boys to harness their naturally competitive natures in healthy ways. Both of my boys have played sports and I am NOT a crazy team mom, surprisingly. I do think the most important thing is that they have fun, but my eldest is 11 now and he knows it feels better to win. It just does. As long as he’s a good sport, I don’t think there is any way that I can convince him otherwise.  The only time that the competitive thing really bothers me is when it occurs between my boys. And it does. OFTEN.  BUT I have siblings and I think that is a natural thing and cannot be avoided.

As usual with my children and this parenting gig in general, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  I think that is not said by parents to each other enough and it doesn’t matter how many books you read on the subjects of child rearing and parenting, no book is going to tell you exactly how to raise YOUR children. With that being said, being competitive myself might give me an edge on rearing my children to have healthy attitudes about working hard, winning, and losing. I should share the tale of the pumpkin carving contest and that I have no right to be upset about losing because I know I didn’t work my hardest on it.

I tell my boys all the time that some things are out of their control.  There are times that my eldest will practice his hardest, play his best, be a good sport and everything will come together for him, only to have an umpire who makes terrible calls.  I tell him all he can do is tell himself that he knows he did the best he could and to let any and everything else go.  SO much easier said than done, but maybe the fact that I’ll be right there with them, convincing myself of what I’m telling them, will help.

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