Everything's a Competition

Recently, whenever Mallory is reprimanded or denied something she wants, she zings back with this cutting retort:

“Well, I’m going to have more funner than you at school!”

Seriously. “Mallory, please don’t push your sister.”

“Well, I’m going to have more funner than you at school!”

Or, “No, you can’t have a piece of candy, it’s almost dinner time.”

“Well, I’m going to have more funner than you at school!”

Once she was arguing with Chris about something, and doing so a bit ineptly, and Chris said, “Mallory, you’re not even making sense.” And sure enough, here it came:

“Well, I’m going to have more funner than you at school!” Then she added, “What do you say about THAT?”

It’s funny, and it’s ridiculous, and it’s a bit poignant, as well. Poor child, she’s only six, she has so little control over her life. All she has going for her is that she gets to go to kindergarten, and I suppose that I’m glad that she perceives school as “funner” than anything the rest of us get to do.

She had to turn in a drawing for a coloring contest at school, in celebration of Catholic Schools Week. I didn’t tell her it was for a contest; I just said that her drawing and her classmates’ would be displayed for visitors to see, so she needed to do her very best. Lately she cries if she has to erase too much on her handwriting homework, or if she can’t get something just right in a drawing she’s working on, so I thought the idea of a contest would be too much pressure for her. I think she’ll be very disappointed if she doesn’t win -- and she won’t, I saw the other drawings and hers was not the best. (I think, in fact, that her best friend’s drawing will win.) It seems so unfair; she’s only six. I want to tell the judges that she worked really, really hard, that she did give it her best effort, but obviously I can’t.

My own personal history comes in to play here, as it always does. In second grade, I received the Art Award at the end-of-year Awards Assembly. How I rated this honor is one of the enduring mysteries of my life, as I have never been artistically inclined. My best guess is that I got it because I was neat and quiet, qualities that must have appealed to the art teacher, who was the meanest woman alive. Anyway, I was delighted to be called up on stage to receive my award, and I went back to my seat and beamed and held up my certificate for my best friend to see. And she looked at it and then looked away, and her eyes were full of tears. And I was crushed. I was so sad that I had won something and she hadn’t, and I wanted to tell her that I didn’t care about the award, and that she was my best friend ever no matter what. But I couldn’t think of a way to say that, so I just sat there and glared down at my certificate and thought, “You just broke her heart.” And that’s a terribly melodramatic memory, but it’s stayed with me, and I just hate to think of my kids being on either side of that situation.

Do you ever get over wanting to protect your children from every little hurt?


Anonymous said...

The answer to your last question is an unequivocal NO - not even when they are all grown up and have children of their own.


aimee said...

Oh, your memory made me cry. I have been on the "losing" side of things many times with one of my best friends (who was the best at everything) It hurt no matter what age. So I feel for Mallory. I also feel for you. I feel very protective of the boys and don't want them to hurt in anyway. I don't think that will ever change.