Thursday, July 14, 2005

Competition

A parable.

A man had two daughters, Carlotta and Josephina. Both girls loved skeet-shooting. They enjoyed shooting skeets purely for recreation, but, at the urging of their parents, the sisters joined their school's shooting club (they lived in Texas, with which one does not mess).

At first, both girls enjoyed being on the team, since both the practices and the meets gave them the opportunity to release their frustrations by obliterating all things skeet. But as time went on Carlotta began to realize that the competition was actually quite intense and that she was not doing well. Josephina, on the other hand, seemed oblivious to the competitiveness, while actually being very good and winning many events.

This perplexed their father, who was stuck with this conundrum: how do we praise Josephina without making Carlotta feel worse? To put it another way, Josephina's achievements are good, and worthy of recognition. But how could they call (justified) attention to Josephina's accomplishments without having them cast a glaring light on Carlotta's non-accomplishments. Merely saying, "you did your best" didn't seem to work.

Here's what he decided. If Carlotta chose not to re-join the skeet-shooting team the next season, she could. But she would need to find another organized activity to take its place. She would not be allowed to quit in the middle of any season, but she could try different things until she found something at which she felt more comfortable (such as drag-racing, which she had already been doing in the off-season).

Of course, Josephina stayed on the shooting team, and Carlotta continued to slaughter skeets for recreation.

Perhaps this was the right move, perhaps not. Suggestions are welcome.

5 Comments:

At 9:17 AM, Blogger Georgia on My Mind said...

Ah…one of the first lessons are life – some win and some lose. I think C & J’s parents are doing a great job at praising J for her accomplishments. I recall an Easter egg hunt in Richmond where each child was only allowed to find 5 eggs. This insured that no child felt bad about not finding as many eggs as another. How ridiculous! I mean, this is not how the world operates, is it. I do think that C’s parents should encourage her to find another activity, but they should find one at which they know she will succeed. Perhaps an art class or a summer camp at the Planetarium? This activity should be C’s and C’s alone, even if J protests and wants to join.

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger fiorinda said...

I agree with georgia on my mind. having been in that exact situation as a child, once my sister and I found our particular niche all was well. because our interests were so different we were never in competition with one another, but we could support each other in our various roles. and we were never subject to comparative criticism from our parental units. I clearly remember those early piano lessons where it became obvious who needed to continue and who needed to find a new hobby. But we both kept at it because it never hurts to keep doing something even though you are not the best. You are learning the meaning of commitment and perseverance. But when it comes time for quitting, it is best to find something new. I think it is John Eldredge who talks so much about how God puts in our hearts those things which best suit our destiny. So Carlotta should be allowed to pursue her dream(within reason of course), but after she finishes skeet shooting season. I don't know if Because I Said So will agree, so I hope she puts her 2 cents in(hint, hint).

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Jon said...

What is a skeet?

 
At 2:40 PM, Blogger Becki said...

I'm right in there in agreement with gomm and daw. C shouldn't have to participate in an activity she isn't comfortable with. J should be allowed to fulfill her athletic potential. C probably already has an activity she enjoys and does well with and she should be allowed this space as her own domain. This is a hard issue as a parent when all of one's children are the same gender. It's not so difficult if they are different in gender because they very naturally don't compete in the same area. I always felt compared to my older sister who was academically gifted. My parents didn't compare me to her, but I felt the comparison nevertheless. I enjoyed athletics which she didn't. It gave me an opportunity to have my own identity. I know you'll show wisdom and decide exactly the right thing.

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Because I Said So said...

I agree with all of the other comments. My talent was quoting math formulas, which I didn't find nearly as impresssive as my sisters talent in all things musical. Because our talents were different our parents were able to support us as individuals. Our parents never compared us either but I think there is that thing in all of us that longs to be as good at something as someone else. At our house the important thing is trying. If you try it but don't like it or just can't seem to do it then you don't have to. But you have to give it your best shot. For some people their talent or natural ability is obvious early on, but some of us have to look a little harder. Now that my boys are getting older they are noticing more that they have different abilities and interests. They are supporting each other and working together to fill in where one is weak and the other strong. Sometimes when one succeeds at something it challenges the other to work a little harder. Now that I have children of my own I find myself apologizing to my mom a lot because all of the things she made me do when I was little that I thought were stupid, and have now discovered were very wise.

 

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