Do you think that for some of us winning just comes easy? Or is it a result of hard work, how we were parented as children or just a combination of good genes, luck and social situation? Or is it to do with how well we manipulate the system?
I'm trying really hard to install in my children the importance of playing fairly and the attitude that "it's not the winning that counts it's the taking part." Although I do sometimes pretend not to see when my children re roll the dice in snakes and ladders because they didnt get a six.
I have heard stories about the behaviour of some "soccer parents" at local junior club matches (and we are talking 5-7 year olds) shouting obscene abuse at their own and other childen during the game which is quite unacceptable. I've always sworn that I would never, ever, ever develop that type of unhealthy competitive streak.
That is until our annual Town in Bloom competition ran a miniature garden contest for 4-7 year olds.
My 6 year old was desperate to enter.
For some reason unbeknown to me...I was desperate for him to win.
I have no explanation of my need to win this competition...perhaps it was because neither myself or my son are "born winners" and I just wanted him to feel good.
I feel bad about the following story.
Really, I do.
It is not my finest hour.
We called our garden (note: our garden...not his!) Grandads Garden...mainly because I knew that the competition would be judged by the older generation and this was guaranteed to score some points. After raiding our farm set and a not so cheap trip to the local dolls house emporium we were ready to make the garden. On a beautiful sunny summers day we sat outside clutching our plastic shovels, filling our seed tray with sand and laying our expensive fake turf. It was bliss. My 2 year old was in heaven emptying the sand from the sandpit and putting it all over the patio. The baby was just enjoying the sunshine and the breeze. It was all going well until we reached the garden design stage. Having spent many weeks thinking about the optimial design for the garden I was very taken aback when my eldest son decided to scrap our original plan and go with something "off the cuff."
"But Darling", I said, "Should we not put the water feature next to the patio so that when grandad is relaxing in his (very expensive) deckchair on the ( also very pricey terracotta tiled) patio, he has something interesting to look at?"
"No." said my 6 year old. "I want it to go in the corner over there."
No matter how much I tried to persuade him that the water feature...and the garden bench would look much better elsewhere, it was to no avail. It was at this point that..(CAUTION...shameful moment coming up)...that I threw my plastic shovel on the floor and told him: "Well...just do it your way then if you dont want to win."
I am so embarressed.
I dont know what came over me.
When I had calmed down a bit I agreed through gritted teeth that maybe the water feature would look better over in the corner. Hidden by the Acer. Obscured from view. And there it stayed.
Needless to say..we won. My son was overjoyed. I was racked with guilt as it was a bit of a dead cert. I felt bad for all the other children (and really bad for the mums) who had spent hours and hours putting tonnes of glitter on things to make their fairy gardens. My hubbie laughs everytime about how well I (a 30 year old woman) did in the 4-7 minature garden category. And my son polishes his trophy every night.
I'm not proud of my behaviour. But I am already planning our next years entry.