By Karen Bergamo-Moore
“It’s not a competition.”
I have lost track of the number of times I’ve said these words to The Boy.
Whether it was about the number of pages read during Parents as Reading Partners week or who got to summer day camp earlier, which is better, concert band or orchestra, or who has the most homework — everything seems to be a competitive sport in and out of school.
I’ve become so accustomed to saying, “It’s not a competition,” that I’ve had to stop myself when he’s talking about an actual sport. “It’s not a compet … Well, it is a competition, but it’s supposed to be fun.”
I try to remember if I was super competitive as a child and don’t recollect anything this extreme. I asked my husband, who, being a sporty guy, I thought would be more competitive growing up. Nope, not in that childhood, either.
I was perplexed. Where did this overly-competitive environment originate? Then it hit me: in the grocery checkout line.
I overheard two moms lamenting the lack of free time due to children’s schedules. Mom A mentioned a soccer practice and baseball, Mom B countered with Girl Scouts and ballet. Mom A saw her scouts and dance and raised it with religious ed and a side of a spouse that worked nights. Not to be outdone, Mom B parried with a travel hockey team and a teenager going on college visits.
The parental competition starts early. I lost track of the times I was asked if I was breastfeeding. I don’t think they were as concerned with The Boy’s well being or even with my breasts as much as they wanted to feel good – if not superior – about their own choices if I gave the “wrong” answer.
Breastfeeding lead to other not-so-veiled competitions. Did you go organic and thereby beat those who offered up chicken nuggets that they in no way could guarantee were free range?
Who talked earlier, walked earlier, rode a bike, learned their ABCs, wrote their name, lost a tooth … ? In every crowd there always seems to be someone who can one-up your tale of parental success. But why? There are no trophies. The only prize is knowing if you do it right, you’ll have produced an independent, free-thinking, self-sufficient, compassionate adult.
So next time any of us are tempted to humble brag, perhaps our kids should say to us “it’s not a competition.”
Karen Bergamo Moore lives in Camillus with her husband and son. She works in the communications office at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, is active in Boy Scouts and enjoys running 5Ks with her son. Follow her on twitter at @kmoore623.