Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'll race ya!

He may only be three, but I totally get him.

I'm discovering more with each passing day that my youngest son is a lot like me. Again, he's only three, so that could all change, but as I observe him in new situations - I see myself.

Take, for instance, a new preschool science class I enrolled him in on Saturdays in February. Each week, he joins other pint-sized people to learn some basic science concepts like magnifying images, measurement, and our senses.

My boy is hilarious because he listens to the teacher's instructions and then announces, "I have to tell my Mom!" He runs over to me and gives me the low down. I send him back to join his classmates. And the cycle continues.

He usually has a comment or two to share with his teacher, which makes me smile because my two older children, in the same situation, would have clung to my leg or insisted I stay by their side, or just plain cried to have to participate.

And I grin as I think, "Finally! An extrovert! I gave birth to an extrovert like me!" I can't tell you how relieved I am to have someone else in the house who isn't scared to pieces to walk into a room full of people.

Instead, is practically energized by it.


So I admire his ability to converse and share his thoughts openly, taking part in the activities and even having a solution now and then.

But this week in science class, they played a game.

I saw another trait come out that was eerily familiar.

A competitive spirit.

The children were playing red light/green light, and the winner each time received a card with a picture on it (it went with the sense of sight concept...hang with me here).

He was a trooper for the first several attempts. But he's a little guy - the class is for three- to five-year-olds, so he is on the low end of that spectrum and he got beat repeatedly by some older kids. Well, he really wanted a card. So much so, that after about game five, facing defeat yet again, he turned around with a frustrated look and stomped over to me.

"I'm not playing anymore. I never get a card!" he whimpers.

I respond with, "If you don't play, you'll never get a card."

As if a light bulb came on, he marched back to the starting line.

Still no win, but he seems willing to try again.

At this point the teacher is noticing some inequality as one little girl sits with three cards while three wee ones are cardless.

She decides to give anyone who doesn't have a card a hefty head start.

Finally, my kid has a shot.

But he positions himself poorly and comes in second.

"I'm not playing!" he announces as he runs to me, trying desperately to hold back the tears.

I tell him he has a good chance now, there's only two of them that get the head start.

He grudgingly heads back to his advance starting line.

This time he wins.

Oh, the JOY!! He grabs the card and runs to me, waving his prized index card with a blurry black and white picture glued to it with the kind of pride only a three-year-old could exhibit.

He was so mesmerized with his trophy that his late start on the final run didn't even bother him.

As relieved as I was to see him finally win a card, I was hit with the realization that I was watching myself...

Because I've never played anything believing I would lose. Even as crazy impossible it may have been to win a race or game, I rarely recall a time when I thought I couldn't possibly win. Why play if there's no chance of a win?

And losing...well, there better be a shoulder available to cry on, or...I have been known to get mad and throw things.

Sure, I have the mentality of a preschooler.

So be it.

The boy and I will thrive on competition.

And when we do win - hey, we're extroverts. So we'll throw the best parties.

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