Whether we like it or not; the summer of 2012 is going to be dominated by sport. The air will be filled with team spirit, the thrill of competition, the elation of winning and of course the disappointment of losing. The twinlings seem to have caught the scent of what’s ahead for the nation and have been displaying their own competitive prowess.
It started with their school reading. I thought I was doing the right thing when I praised them for moving to the next reading level. But no. Ladybird, who as I’ve said before responds well to a smiley face, quickly saw it as a personal mission to work her way through the reading stages. I quickly changed my official line. But I was too late; their minds were already set.
One evening as Pickle read his school book and Ladybird reminded us that she’d done this level such a long time ago, I delved into my stash of parenting clichés to try and put things right:
‘It doesn’t matter what level you’re on,’ I explained, ‘what counts is how hard you try.’
I could have just come straight out with ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ but I was aiming for a point or two for originality. But it really didn’t matter how I phrased it, Ladybird had her own views:
‘No,’ she told me. ‘What matters is being on the highest level. And being the best.’
OK. So what do I say to that? I didn’t know. I still don’t know. Maybe the ‘taking part’ cliché is well worn for a reason. Should I have just stuck with that? It was yet another situation that leaves me wondering where my natural parenting instinct to say the right thing ended up.
And it’s not just the reading anymore. As they sit at the table felt tipping out another picture of me with bright red hair they’ve become a pair of vicious art critics, panning their stick men and giving brutal feedback on spelling. On Friday for the Sport Relief mile at a local athletics track they were both determined they were going to win, even though it wasn’t a race.
So this got me wondering; if I’m telling them it’s all about learning and fun (which releases me from any responsibility of their insensitivities) does this mean a competitive nature is genetic? I found my answer on parent.com, according to psychologists it’s a common phase children go through in their first year at school. Four and five year olds are apparently comparing their progress in a way they hadn’t before and this adds to the pride they feel when they reach a new milestone. Especially if they reach it first.
So we haven’t produced two ruthless competitors. It’s just another phase and probably more pronounced in the twins because they’re doing everything at the same time. But, if in say 40 years’ time we get a lady prime minister who’s joined forces with her twin brother in a bid for world domination; well, I did try to warn you.