Monday, July 5, 2010

My Competitive Nature

I have a slight to moderate problem with losing.  It's OK to lose.....if it happens to someone else.  I just happen to really loathe it, myself.  It's part of my competitive nature.  I think it's hereditary.  My family makes everything into a competition.  According to the parenting books I threw away, my brother and I had a bad case of sibling rivalry due to being born too close together.  I happen to know the truth, though, and it runs much deeper than that.  It's more like a multi-generational competition that we were born into...a giant race that never ends.  We always bring our "A" game when our family gets together.  Whether it's ping pong, washers, golf,  or scrabble, it's cut throat to the death!

My husband's family is way too nice to be competitive.  They just like to play the game, win or lose.  Practically no one keeps score in his family, and everyone congratulates each other for "trying hard".  It's like some sort of Hallmark Card of kindness that they share around. Warm fuzzies abound in his family. It's completely foreign to me.  I can't imagine playing anything in a leisurely manner.  It's all about strategy, and executing the plan of attack, in my mind. In his family, no one even remembers who the winner is the next day.  In my family, not only do we remember, but we will never let you forget it!  We trash talk, make wagers, and use intimidation as much as possible in my family.  And when we win, (notice I didn't say if we win) then we react like we just won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes.  We run around the back yard screaming, jumping up and down, and doing a signature jig that involves dancing with elbows swinging back and forth in merriment.  Then, the next day, we text message each other about the re-match and accusations of cheating.  It's all very mature.

Sometimes, we even do the "Christian" slam by saying something like, "God bless ya, you just can't throw a washer to save your life, can you?"  If you preface the insult with "God bless ya" then it's supposed to make it sound nicer.  It's a Mary Poppins approach to trash talk. You know, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.  It's a technique we use when non- family members are playing with us.  It's how we initiated my soon to be sister- in- Law.  We didn't want to scare her away, so we used this type of game strategy with her, but after the wedding, forget it.  Then she's one of us.

 I'm telling you all of this because my husband's family has a budding tradition the day after the fourth of July that brings out the competitive spirit in me, and leaves me feeling like a loser.  Every year, we have a rubber duck race in the river.  We take sharpies and decorate our ducks for the big competition, and then dump them in the river to see which one floats to the bridge the fastest.  We do a series of "heats" and the winners of those heats race in a final match of rubber duck madness. 

This whole race is problematic for me on many levels.  First of all, it involves absolutely no strategy.  It's purely a game of chance.  Secondly, there are too many elements out of my control.  The bushes overhanging the river, the pockets of calm water, the grass traps that snag ducks, and the occasional upside down water fowl.  One minute you're in the lead, the next, you get caught in a swirling pool of wayward water and it's curtains for your victory chances.  If I could "will" my duck to win, then it would be a champion every time, but it doesn't have anything to do with sheer will, strategy, or skill.  It's all just dumb luck.  Herein lies the problem.  How do you sit back, relax, and  enjoy a duck race when you have a winner's drive?

It would be more fun if we could build a motor, change the design, or use a straw to blow on the duck for steering....anything to put an element of skill or strategy into play.  But that would be cheating, and there are NO cheaters in my husband's family.  So I try to enjoy the race even though my lousy duck fails me time and time again. 

My baby is all smiles as her duck finishes first place!

Here, the rest of us are pretending to be good sports even though our ducks are losers.

Here are a few more of the duck race competitors on the bridge.

I've found that by marrying someone whose personality is different yet complimentary to your own, you can live a much fuller life with new perspective and greater insights. My spouse's strengths are my weaknesses. He's calm when I'm excited, he's brave when I'm scared, and he's a good sport when I'm a brat. And there's an added bonus: my husband's mellow gaming family is wearing off on me a little bit.  Being in their family for ten years has softened my insatiable desire to win at all costs.  It has not  fully taken away my love of victory, but it has made me a better sport about the occasional loss....even though it wasn't my fault if my dumb duck got caught in the grass, and it wasn't my fault that it tipped upside down, and it wasn't my fault that someone let it go just a split second slower than the rest of the ducks.  My middle child came up to me after the race and said, "Good try, Mommy" in her best Hallmark voice.  She must take after her father.  Even though I lost, I was still able to enjoy the sound of the water flowing down the creek, and gave a congratulatory handshake to my baby for her win, and then whispered in her ear, " Next year, your duck is going down!" Hee Hee Hee.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to your little one. My sister is like that, quite competative. I have a small streak, I don't mind loosing just not by a land slide on my head. *smile* Have a great week. Sincerely, Mommy of two little blessings & so much more!