Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The _______ -est Blog Post- EVER


Of the highest quality or degree


"Mom, have you ever seen someone so grumpy?  I was the grumpiest, huh?"
Somewhere along the line, our sweet son determined that anything worthwhile must be superlative.  Never does he dislike something a little bit; he informs me that it is the worst thing he has ever experienced.  Never does he just enjoy playing with a new toy; he immediately learns everything available about it, and begs to be taken to the store in order to collect each thing related to it.  When it isn't his turn to be the line leader at school, he asks to be the caboose, because being last is better than being in the middle.  To say he has a competitive streak would be like saying the sun is warm.   He drew some pictures recently, and asked us to tear them out of the notebook so that they could be framed and put in a museum. I commented about what a mess Baby was making with her food, and he got very defensive: "I'm still the messiest eater in our family, though, right?"

I'm certain that Husband and I have nurtured this attitude, at least to some extent.  After all, what is better than good?  The best.  Who is smarter than smart?  The smartest.  Who doesn't want their child to be the best and the smartest?  We may have also occasionally used his need to excel to our advantage.  "Do you think you can be a better listener than your cousins?"  "Let's see if you can remember all your manners and be the most polite little boy in the whole world!"

You may have already recognized the flaws in his -est quest.  I hear myself repeating the same things to him fairly often: "Your best is more important than the best."  "Just because you didn't win doesn't mean you didn't do a great job." "Nobody does everything right all the time."  "No, I've never seen a 5-year-old write lowercase 'e's that well."  Since starting kindergarten, it has been made painfully clear that he is not always going to be first, greatest, best, tallest, fastest, strongest, biggest, quietest, estcetra.  He has adapted pretty well, for the most part.  He is the first one finished with the assigned work.  His printing skills have improved tremendously since he saw how well some of the other kids were doing.  However, since most of the other kids behave pretty well, and are learning how to listen quietly during their lessons, our son has found an awful niche in which to achieve his new -est.  Now, he's the loudest, and sometimes, the craziest (his words, not mine).
Not actually green- Wed, 1/9.  Not actually yellow- Tue, 1/15
When he has to change his card from green to yellow, it means that the teacher had to speak to him more than once about his behavior.  Students who have card changes also lose out on some play time, which never seems to bother our son.  For many kids, the embarrassment of having been singled out by the teacher and made to change the card is quite a deterrent.  For our boy, notsomuch.  Husband and I have tried different punishments, rewards, motivational speeches, and reminder notes.  We've made suggestions to his teacher, and we've listened to ideas from her, and from other parents.  He knows the right way to behave, he knows which choices are the right ones, and he knows what consequences he will face if he does the wrong things.  It seems that he is constantly battling his need to be something-est with the reality that standing out of the crowd in the wrong way will lead to trouble.

I was recently relieved of some of the stress caused by my worries about him and his behavior.  A lady I met while running with the group has a couple of adult children, and observed that the talkativeness and stand-out attitude of our 5 yr old will probably serve him very well later in life.  His lack of shyness and his determination to excel at all costs, I realized, are actually good qualities.  For the first time, I thought, "Huh.  It really is just kindergarten."  It took way too long for me to figure out that yellow smiley faces don't need to create such anxiety.  Maybe today's advice can be applied to something in your life, and can offer some relief from a toss-n-turn situation.  Here goes:  When the present makes you want to pull your hair out, think about the future.  Not only do you not want to be bald in years to come, but you may well realize that whatever the trouble, it's only temporary.  Also, it is likely that we can all take after the smartest, handsomest, coolest, sweetest, awesomest 5 year-old I know, and add some -est to our own lives.

In what way do you -estcel?

Are you tired of my made-up words, yet?


  1. It's hard to create an on-off switch for intensity and competitiveness. Guessing at some point the idea and potential benefits of being "best listener" will click for him. Until then... just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. :)

  2. Just be careful. Such hyper-competitiveness can lead to anxiety, obsessive behavior, lack of satisfaction with even GOOD work (because it's not the best), and low self-esteem. I speak from experience as a parent whose child used to collect pencil shavings (borderline OCD) and didn't miss a spelling word for 3 years. The other kid went the other way - if she couldn't do it perfectly, she wouldn't even try.

    1. We do worry, often, about how competitive he is, and what a perfectionist. For now, we just try to say the right things, and model the correct behaviors. Good to know we're not alone!

  3. Man, things I haven't had to even think about yet. Thanks for being honest and sharing your experience. It seems that parents (including myself) want to share their kids shining qualities most and not admit that their kids aren't perfect, nor are their parenting skills. I want to be the bestest mommy I can, but fall short and it's a good thing that God has grace for people like me:-) You're a brave soul and a smart one!!