It’s no secret that disciplining kids is the wrong approach. Let the sweet children know that no matter what effort they put in, no matter what place, what view of the podium they have from afar, it’s okay. It’s okay. They don’t have to be the best. In fact, being the best comes with responsibility not everyone is built to accommodate. Sometimes you just want a nice chai tea and a hot bath. If you’re unwilling to trade this for shooting three pointers for endless hours in a dark gym where no sun shines, I certainly understand. How many hot baths do you think Steph Curry gets to indulge in?
But the fact of the matter is that a place on the podium is a very transparent way of judging someone’s worth and ability. Whose business is it if you didn’t place? The place that matters is the one in your heart, the personal goal that you set out to beat. The haters are going to hate, of this you can be sure, but these are people who are concerned with statistical averages of who’s best. Who cares? Just be yourself and enjoy yourself.
Brass tax: I never fared well in the high school athletics department. There was always a taller kid, and fitter kid, a kid better at various sports—did I let this get me down? Never! I dedicated myself to bettering my personal goals, to becoming a winner I could be proud of, even if no one else could be. And I sure as shit knew I was, even when those other fucks were waving from their bejewelled spots on the high-up podium.
Competition is for angry moms, and dads looking to relive their glory days. A modern parent should endorse a healthy level of acceptance in their child, a willingness to embrace the inadequacies that lead to a career as a barista. If they back out of a fight? Good for them! Violence is not the answer! If they refuse to do a cliff jump? Right on! Jumping from heights can damage internal organs. If they don’t make out with the cute girl during spin-the-bottle? That’s up to them! They might just lean in a different direction than the rest.
Another word of advice: keep the kids from seeing how past generations behaved. There was too much of an emphasis then on the patriarchy of contest and the gladiatorial disputes between boys. Last place is still a place! Winning may be for winners, but losing is not for losers. It’s for tryers. And war, and cutting wood, and being chivalrous, and understanding mechanism, and shaving twice a day, and cherishing the love of a good woman and drinking heavy amounts of bourbon is overrated and self-destructive. Those men came in first, and look where they ended up! Sometimes it’s nice to just sit on your ass and wait for the world to come to you, and back out of the competition and give your place to someone else.
But hopefully with maturity we’ll understand that if to everything there exists an innate competition, then to everything there will exist an innate and intact belief in the paradigms of gain and loss, and that with those still existing we’ll always struggle to express our true selves to this great, green, accepting world.