Competition and Grace

Our sweet little girl.  Full of curls and sugar and spice and everything nice…



Turns out little miss A has inherited a good healthy sense of competition from her mother and her Auntie Misha.  Click below to see her with her friend Elijah (hint: keep your eye on the purple ring).

I didn’t happen to see this little interchange that Elijah’s mom snuck a great video of, but I did see Alaythia nicely try to include Elijah in her ball-throwing game (her FAVORITE thing to do), which he didn’t seem to quite know what to do with.  She threw her ball to him, waiting for him to send it back, but he mostly wanted to study it.  That’s what Elijah generally does when they play–studies all the toys, and graciously puts up with Alaythia not always being the perfect little lady.  Once Alaythia threw the ball but missed Elijah, and it rolled maybe five feet away from them.  They both took off crawling, neck and neck… Elijah had the advantage of being a month and a half older, and equally more experienced in crawling, and Alaythia, well, she’s just kind of quick and little and scrappy (like her Auntie Hilary :-).  So who won?  Well, I think based on the video above you can guess.  She won a little more fair and square this time, and I congratulated her–but then I wondered if I should have.  I definitely would not have condoned the purple ring-tease-stealing she had done earlier, but the ball race she seemed to have won fairly (and of course, quite happily… maybe it was the gloat of victory, in retrospect, that I should have not quite smiled upon).

I got to thinking about this business of being competitive while I ran for an hour in the drenching cold rain the other day–a truly exhilirating experience, I might add.  How do I encourage little A to “run in such a way as to get the prize” and also to “consider others as better than [herself]”?  How to let her experience the discipline and joy of athletics (which she seems very naturally gifted at for being 11 months old!  she can already throw and catch better than I can, and swim better than Kabyn can…), while still teaching her to be kind and serve others?  Feel free to leave a comment if you have a thought on that one. 

As I kept thinking about competition, I couldn’t help but think of her Auntie M, my sister Michelle… our growing up days were often defined by competition.  Two sisters, very close in age, size, ability, everything… yep, as any such siblings would be, we were competitive.  VERY competitive.  I had of course the slight advantage for a while there of being older, but in time, she caught up and surpassed me… she became a much better swimmer (I never hit the national rankings as she did in college), she got more majors in college and definitely got better grades, she lives in a cooler place, has a cooler job, is thinner, and has more cats than I do.  But in the process of her starting to “beat me” at everything, I did find it was humbling.  Over the years, God has been gracious to make me simply excited for her successes and accomplishments, rather than feeling like I need to out-do her.  Not that I’m totally there yet, I’m sure there will be a whole new wave of weird mommy-competitions (yes, moms, we all do it… we all hate it and yet we can’t stop…) once she and Andrew pump out a kid or two, but it has changed some. 

Growing up, The Smith Girls SWAM.  That’s about all we did.  Swim and swim and swim, in every body of water and pool and puddle we ran into.  And we competed.  When we were younger, we made up synchronized swimming routes and judged each other.  When we got older, we swam in a club team, high school team, and nearby college teams, and often raced against each other–which unless I’m mistaken, she may have beaten me in EVERY official head-to-head race we ever swam.  I somehow thought last summer, as I was 36 weeks pregnant but she hadn’t swam in a long time, that I could “beat” her at swimming around Priest Lake, but I was definitely mistaken… I threw up in the lake when I tried to keep up with her.  🙂    But all in all, we have had a lot of fun swimming together over the years.  Swimming is one thing that’s hard to do very regularly in “real” grown-up life, which is too bad.  It’s hard for her to do it Tanzania, and hard for me to do it with a baby and the difficult to get to and fairly expensive Seattle pools.  Someday.  Michelle and I always said we’d find two friends and set a 90-95 year old women relay world record together, so we’ve got lots of time to get back into it.


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