Friday, November 6, 2009

Competitive Spirit

I am a competitive person! Joe is a competitive person! We have never been able to play board games against each other because we are both so darn moody if we loose. We are best when we are on the same team... which I am happy to announce - we are!

We see a competitive streak in all of our kids - some more than others. But we are now faced with an intense competitive spirit in George that our family is not used to. We do love to play games and we all like to win, but to George, his entire life is a competition.

Every chance George gets, he wants to "beat" someone. Getting pajamas on, if George pulls his shirt over his head first he yells out, "I win!" If George finishes his dinner before his siblings (which he always does), he shouts, "George beat everyone!" Walking up the driveway suddenly becomes a race, that George always has to win. Getting on the bus each morning, he cuts in front of anyone who is waiting in line.

Now, I understand. He longs for the praise that comes after the big win. "Great job George, you DID finish your dinner!" or "Wow! That was so fast how you got your pajamas on!" And his favorite, "George! You are the fastest runner in the family." But it gets old when these things are not really a competition. George needs to hear over and over again that he is valuable, capable, strong and healthy. He wants to know that his family sees his talents and his drive. He makes sure that he is still being looked after and that he is loved.

These are things that we do for our babies. I think about how when Eleanor was a baby, my first and only one at the time, and how I oohed and aahhed at every little thing she did. If she smiled, I clapped! If she babbled, I smiled and babbled back to her. If she courageously stood up on her own, I cheered and celebrated her! All those little things that moms do instinctively that create a self-esteem in a child is so important.

I don't think George ever got that...it's just not Ethiopian culture to do such things with your children. Yet, George is a child who longs to know that he is loved and appreciated and it is obvious that he didn't get that when he was little. So, he wants it now...constantly!

Our job as parents is to find that happy medium...celebrating his abilities and talents and at the same time teaching him that not everything in life is a competition that has a winner and a loser. Sometimes, I want him to be happy for one of his siblings, who won the contest that time.

Often times, I have to sit back and be amazed at how complex the life of a parent is. Not only do we meet all the physical needs of our children, we have to psychoanalyze them :) And it's not just an adopted child that needs this analysis every now and then.

This competitive spirit has done George well...he came to us very healthy for a child living in poverty in an orphanage. He also is very bright, which I think is a result of him wanting to always be the best. These things will continue to serve him well as an adult! The key is tempering that spirit when it comes to the every day things in life that just need to be done. Although, maybe there really is no harm in him shouting out that he is the best pajama getter-oner in the family.

1 comment:

milreb said...

What a great mom and dad George has who see him as God sees him. I think I will be spending some time this week reading your blog!