Our 13-year-old Chris has never been very competitive. In fact, he tends to be the kind of person who has more potential than he uses. If given his druthers, he'll do the least amount of work needed to get by. He's simply not driven by the need to be better than all the others.
This has been especially hard for Mike to swallow, as the word competitive does not even begin to describe him! When Chris reported that he was the second chair in percussion last year, and the third chair was thinking about challenging him for second chair, Mike wanted to know whether Chris was planning to challenge the first chair. When Chris shrugged and said no, Mike could not understand.
We've asked Chris whether he wants to try out for the advanced choir or the stage band, but he's not really interested. He's satisfied to be in the concert and marching bands. He is a good swimmer and enjoys swimming, but he's not terribly interested in competing on the swim team.
When he is working on a speech or a paper, we'll prod him to keep rewriting or to keep practicing, and he'll allow us to push him...but only so far. He'd rather be doing something else, and he simply does not seem to be driven to be the best he can be....unless he is playing Rock Band on the Wii (in which case he consistently plays at "Expert" level and completely leaves me in the dust).
He follows in our footsteps and has always been drawn to the liberal arts--literature, history, music, etc.--and math has not come easy for him.
As for me, I am somewhere between Mike and Chris. I'm much less competitive than Mike, but I too tend to veer toward activities in which I won't have to work as hard. When I got to high school and I actually had to study for the first time in my life (previously I was able to coast through), I got Ds in Advanced Algebra and Physics (the classes I had to study hard for and didn't enjoy as much as my Liberal Arts classes)...and that was a huge wake-up call for me. I pulled myself back together, fortunately. But I'm very aware of my tendency to be a tiny bit lazy! Chris probably inherited that from me.
So imagine my shock today when Mike called me at work today to inform me that Chris got his report card today and he made the honor roll. We were both amazed. Mike also heard from his math teacher that his math test scores went up by 10 points this year.
I shy away from competitive parenting--in fact, those discussions really bother me intensely. However, any of you who know Chris' humble, difficult beginnings and the struggles he faced in his early years with speech realize how significant a milestone this is for us...all of us. Chris was amazed as well!
KILL ME if I ever put a bragging bumper sticker on my car, though!!!