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Mine vs. Yours

Welcome to the playground.

My kid is better than yours.

Here I thought the world of advertising was the most cut throat competitive part of my life, but the playground beats it all. And it’s not the kids who make it ulcer inducing. For the most part, they don’t even know they’re competing.

Like two fighters in a ring with chalk outlines on the floor, not the CSI kind, more like drawings of dogs with creative amounts of limbs, the two battlers circle warily. We’re moms and dads and our kids are playing together nearby. Well, at 17 months they’re not really playing together, psychologists and educators call it parallel play, but they’re playing near enough each other. Near enough for us parents to compare them. They seem to be the same size so the question gets asked…

How old is your child?

Here is where the playful jab can turn to a mean left hook.

If my kid is older and more advanced than the younger kid, there’s no problem.

If my kid is younger and appears more advanced than the older kid. Trouble. Like I divinely had something to do with it.

Penelope is small for her age so most parents look relieved. My child may be the same size as theirs and climbing like a monkey but she is older they can sigh and say.

Of course, advanced development can also be as deceptive as a trick pony. For example, I ask her how many chips she wants and she’ll say “3”. You will logically think she knows she wants “3”, a reasonable number. (Then you will seethe with jealousy that my little child knows numbers.) However, what I’m not advertising is that “3” is the only number Penelope knows. So it will always be “3”. Smartly like the magician who won’t reveal his tricks, I won’t repeat a number question in front of you unless, of course, the answer is obviously “3”.

And when I ask Penelope if she wants juice. She’ll say "Yeah". Ask her is she wants food, she’ll say “Yeah”. Ask her if she wants to sit on the bench, “Yeah”. Ask her if that’s a blue giraffe over there, “Yeah.”

And she does know the letter “B” but not “A”, “C” or even “P”. But you don’t know that. So if I draw a “B” on the ground and ask her what letter, she’ll sure look impressive.

Give her this: she is a fantastic climber. That I can’t fake. But what good does that do me except that I’m getting a lot of exercise making sure she can get down from what she climbs up. Come see her at home. She’s still climbing. You just try and get her to sit for a book. My kid doesn’t even sit still for TV. That’s not going to get her up to Harvard. But it may get her to Everest.

You also don’t see Penelope has only 6 teeth now. Go ahead boast that your 17 month old has molars (like you had anything to do with it), I’ve heard it before. I say it gives me less to brush.

The moms I get along with are like me. We just don’t care. We both know that all (most) healthy kids will eventually walk, talk, get their teeth and recite the alphabet at some point. Why are we competing now? There’s not even a cheap plastic trophy at stake.

So let’s start again.

Welcome to the playground.

My kid is better than yours.

But then, your kid is better than mine in some ways too.

And it can give us a lot to laugh about and learn from.