Posted by: martinworster | March 18, 2010


I am starting to notice a degree of competition between my sons Tristan and Oliver. I’m trying to work out if it is healthy or not. Concepts such as ‘winning’ are unravelling themselves to the young boys. The journey from the car to the house will become a race to them, whether it is on foot or scooter. 

‘I’m first,’
‘No, I’m first’

This goes on for a few minutes. A circular debate that goes nowhere, infantile by nature but essentially an accurate reflection of the rhetoric of most politicians. Instead of finding solutions, the energy in the combatants is focused solely on their differences. There is no progression.

Eventually Oliver, the younger by 17 months will scream in a fit of red rage simultaneously thumping his brother on the arm or occasionally head. Tristan looks on with a smug look on his face. He is wiser and knows he is playing a game of little consequence. He can also win the game as with his longer limbs he is faster. He in fact engineers the game. It’s a game within a game. It won’t be long before Oliver develops an awareness of this and through cunning and guile will perhaps be able to out play Tristan at his own game. Or he may even be a faster runner.

I am sure this competition will continue into adulthood and well beyond. Perhaps competition is a manifestation of humanity’s necessary playing out of the theory of evolution. In order to survive we have to be the ‘best’. To catch the prey we had had to run faster, shoot more accurately, deliver the hardest blow. The physical prowess perhaps attracted mates who were impressed by these abilities, the breadwinner and alpha male. In the nest it is the fledgling who is strongest in edging out the weaker sibling for food who has the best chance of survival. Quite a harsh lesson in the ways of this dog eat dog world.

Lucky for Tristan and Oliver they are not jostling for scraps of food in a nest, although they would probably quite enjoy that game.

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