I’ve always had a competitive streak. As a child it was a necessary survival instinct – I was the only girl in a street full of lads. Football, British Bull Dogs, and bunny-hopping competitions on your BMX were a daily routine. I got no special treatment for being a girl. In school I always wanted to be top of the class, have the best report, be a Prefect. In sport I always had to be in the team, be the captain, win. As I got older my competitive streak was tempered by a dose of realism. There were always people more able, quicker, smarter than me. The concept of “taking part rather than winning” started to creep more and more in to my life and my competitive streak became more subdued. I’ve happily lived that way for the last 20 years.
And then Chester came to stay…..
After a particularly gruelling week in work I was ready for the weekend. As I drove the short distance home from work I could feel the stress ebbing away. As I stepped through the door my husband smiled and produced something from behind his back. Wine? Flowers? A takeaway? Nope. It was a cute fluffy teddy bear. For a split second I was confused – “why the hell had he bought me that?” and then a chill went down my spine as it dawned on me what this meant. It was the dreaded class teddy bear – Chester.
The bear itself is rather cute and cuddly and considering it is passed around from one sweaty, greasy, mitt to another it is in very good condition. But the bear is not the issue, it is the accompanying diary that you are expected to complete that is the issue. The diary you have to keep to let the rest of the class know what he got up to when he came to stay. The pressure of actually having something to write in the book of any interest is overwhelming. I was “thrilled” with the concept of my much needed long weekend ruined by having to complete what amounted to a piece of school homework – because let’s face it your 3 year old isn’t going to do it. I sat down that evening and opened the book to get a feel for what other parents had put in it. It was depressing reading as Chester had more of a social life than I do. Even his food shopping trips were filled with fun and adventure. Mine consist of running around throwing what I can find in to the trolley, and then putting them on the conveyor belt and sprinting to the end to pack before the cashier dumps them on the floor. As I continued reading, something started stirring in me. It was slightly odd but eerily recognisable. I ignored it….at least I thought I had…..
Next morning I woke early, focused, and with a plan of action. My husband came in from his night shift and eyed me suspiciously before he went up to bed. Armed with my Nikon – yep that bit of detail just starts to set the tone – we all ventured out for a walk. We wrapped up warm and Chester borrowed a woolly hat – that complimented our outfit choices – and we headed off to the woods for a teddy bears picnic. The weather was perfect, crisp and clear. We stopped in a few locations that lent themselves to a photo opportunity and gave me a chance to indulge in my hobby. Harry started to get a bit restless by the end of it as he doesn’t yet share my love of photography, but Chester was happy enough to pose and let me play around with composition, exposure compensation and ISO settings. I was starting to warm to Chester.
On the Sunday I had plans to meet up with my friend and we took the boys to watch Santa turn up at a nearby garden centre. The timing of Chester’s stay could not have been better. This entry was going to wipe the floor of a trip to the supermarket! We got there early and secured a spot where we could get a great view of Santa, and we waited patiently for him to come past us on his reindeer drawn sleigh. Harry wasn’t that keen to appear in photos but thankfully Chester wasn’t camera shy. Afterwards we went inside and I took photos of Chester hiding amongst the Xmas decorations so that Harry’s classmates could try and find him when the teacher showed them the diary – throwing in a bit of audience participation for good measure. Inspired.
When I sat down Sunday evening to write it all up I must have had well over 50 photos to choose from. I was feeling very smug. All that planning and thought had been well worth it. Unfortunately though things went down hill quickly for in the final execution of the task I picked a splodgy pen, even with some major editing I managed to run out of space, I used too much glue on the back of the photos and I made a spelling mistake. The glue issue was so bad that I had to put a tea-towel between the pages so that they didn’t stick together! The ensuing melt down was worthy of an Oscar nomination. During this episode I caught the eye of my husband who was watching me with a knowing look on his face. I knew what he was thinking because the realisation was dawning on me as well. During the course of the weekend I had become the most horrible of creatures. We all know her, for she lurks within us all. She is “Competitive Mum”. The diary entry had all been about me and my weekend, and whilst H had been part of it he had really only been a supporting character. Even Chester looked at me disapprovingly.
A few weeks on and I have had a chance to take stock of what happened and given myself a good talking too. I guess my competitive streak hasn’t gone away, certain situations just trigger my natural competitive instincts. Worryingly I don’t know what those situations are yet – completing a diary would not have been high on my list of “triggers” but look at where that ended up. One thing that I am pleased about is that I am not competitive when it comes to my child. I haven’t enrolled him in to piano classes or anything like that, just so in the first “show and tell” class he can tinkle the ivories with some Beethoven classics. If anything he will be the child that gets up there and does armpit farts to the Paw Patrol theme tune. No doubt they will learn to leave him till last.
Right, that’s about it for now as I’ve got to go. Writing this post has taken me longer than I planned. I’ve get a 10 mile yomp to do before lunch. Sports Day is April 14th and this girl has got to get in training for the adult race……what? I never said I was perfect!
Harry’s Honest Mummy x