Our son Tyson and our daughter Bess have been competing with one another since the day that Bess was born. Tyson is 20 months older. At times their ‘playful’ competition has escalated into the need to “best one another”. Their battles have never really been mean-spirited or aggressive but still at times each of them needed (needs) to be the smarter, faster, funnier one, etc. Somehow our younger son Blake never factored into this rivalry – maybe because he is the smarter, faster, funniest one (don’t tell Ty and Bess!).
Anyway, when they were little children we always monitored their challenges to one another (“Hey Tyson, I bet you can’t do this!” or “Hey Bess, you’re too little to do this!”) to ensure no one got hurt – physically or emotionally. As they grew older we often watched with bemusement at their obsession with being better than the other. Usually these were harmless skirmishes but sometimes we would intervene to save feelings or furniture.
Now that they are adults it’s fun (and funny) to look back on how often the simplest activities would become a contest between the two of them. A Monopoly® game would be enough to draw the battle lines. Physical challenges could become feats of daring. And mealtime discussions might become debates about who knew more about whatever was the topic of conversation. As a boy Tyson was the stronger of the two (although Bess could give him a run for his money!). Bess was always the more intellectual. I sometimes think she did so well in school just to prove to Tyson that she was indeed smarter.
As teenagers sometimes the dialog at dinner would go like this: “Tyson that’s not right!” and then Bess would explain (usually correctly) why his opinion was flawed. After careful consideration Tyson’s response would most likely be: “Well you’re stupid!” – Score one for Bess. Once when they were “allegedly” adults they got into a heated discussion about which of them was funnier. Tyson, ever the quick-witted one, declared without missing a beat: “Bess, I’m funny, you’re merely amusing!” – Score one for Ty.
I love my kids and I know that they love one another. I know that they are each fiercely loyal and would take a bullet for one another. And I know that no sister and brother are more loving and caring and proud of one another. This makes their rivalry all the more interesting. Why do they do it? Why do they always need to “best one another”? I don’t know, maybe it was bad parenting.
Nah, that can’t be right…