Here’s the thing about me: When it comes to sports, I am very, very competitive. I am just straight up in-your-face-take-no-prisoners-win-at-all-costs aggressive.
Here’s the other thing about me: Even though I’m uber-competitive, I’m basically no good at sports. Which is kind of a pathetic combination, actually. It’s sort of like being one of those people who’ve gotta sing! gotta dance!
Case in point. When I ran in the Moab Half-Marathon a few years ago, I was so slow that my parents (who were waiting for me at the finish life) worried that I’d injured myself. In fact, my mother asked my father if they should send an ambulance up the canyon to find me. The only way I could have been any slower is if I’d crawled down the canyon. Backward.
It’s always been like this. When I was in the second grade, for example, I was the worst hopscotch player in our class, even though I loved, loved, loved to play hopscotch. Part of the problem was that I wore “corrective shoes.” Remember corrective shoes? You wore them if you had knock knees, and somehow those shoes were supposed to straighten your legs out. Meanwhile, you looked as if you were wearing “clown shoes” to school and no one wanted to play hopscotch with you because whenever you got to the “ninesies” and “tensies,” you and your big clown shoes always stepped on the lines. Also you looked like a dork.
I ended up playing hopscotch every day at recess with the other girl in the second grade who also wore “corrective shoes.” We made up our own rules as we went along, which allowed us to step on the lines in “ninesies” and “tensies,” after which we hid in the bushes so that the other kids wouldn’t beat us up and steal our lunch money.
Anyway, things haven’t gotten much better. I still like to win even though my skill level hasn’t improved, which is why whenever I compete in an activity, I always try to find at least one person I can beat. And then I pull out all the stops.
The last person I tried to beat in an athletic competition was my granddaughter. Who’s 3.
The family went bowling on New Year’s Day, and when I sized up the competition, I realized the only person I stood a realistic chance against was, in fact, the granddaughter. So I looked at her and in my mind I said, “It’s on.” And then to show that I meant business, I added, “Like Donkey Kong.”
I knew it wouldn’t be easy. After all, she got to use both the bumpers AND the bowling ramp, whereas I only got to use the bumpers. I know! Unfair! But whatever. I was focused. I kept my eye on the prize (even though there wasn’t a prize), whereas my granddaughter kept her eye on the thing that shoots out air to dry your fingers because she thought it was awesome. And when she wasn’t doing that, she was lying on her stomach and singing songs from “Frozen” to herself. Clearly I had the advantage when it came to the “focus” part.
OK. It was a close game. But in the end, my mental discipline paid out big dividends. I inched ahead of my granddaughter in the final frames of the match and won. Not by much, it’s true. But still. So yay for me!
I won’t lie. 2014 has gotten off to a great start.
Ann Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/anncannontrib.