One Second That Didn’t Matter

Fearless, my five year old son, could have won first place in his first triathlon had it not been for me. He came in second place by a one second difference. I have proof.

If you watch the video below you will hear me telling him to put his shirt on, AFTER he already had his helmet on.  This caused some confusion and alas, at least one second, one defining second was lost to his competitor.  Fearless couldn’t care less; he was ecstatic that he finished his first triathlon and in truth, I couldn’t care less either.  Fortunately I am maturing when it comes to this stuff as can be evidenced from my last competitive episode here.

A five year old competing in a triathlon is not about winning; it’s about competing.  It’s about getting up when it’s dark, getting body marked, and getting a timing chip attached to your ankle.  Fearless, as his nickname implies, did not seem nervous at all.  He went where he was called, and I could see him on the other end of the pool, hanging out, playing with his toes as he waited his turn to swim.

He handled the whole thing with ease and I was one overwhelmingly proud mami.

So when I kept hugging Fearless and congratulating him on his first triathlon, it stirred a side of his older brother that I still had not seen so bluntly: unabated jealousy.

“Why is no one telling me how well I did? Why is no one saying I did great? I just did a triathlon too and all you say is how he did great.” I am almost quoting Dreamer verbatim.

Joe and I sighed.  We go to such great lengths to be the best parents we can be, to treat our children well, to love them and encourage them … could this be for real?  I guess it could.

Finish line hug!

Dreamer has lots of outstanding qualities but when it comes to sports, Fearless dominates.  Fearless was only 30 seconds behind his older brother who is almost two years his elder.  From the moment he was born, Fearless has been restless; since he turned eight months old and took his first step he has never stopped.  I’ve heard him say time and time again as he runs “as fast as your arms as fast as your legs,” moving his arms like a locomotive speeding away.

In retrospect though, Fearless is not the only thing Dreamer has been jealous of lately.  He didn’t think it was fair when I sent him to bed but I stayed up with his dad. He doesn’t think it’s fair he has to do what I tell him to, yet he doesn’t get to “boss me around” (his words, not mine).  He is reaching the age where he wants to grow up faster so he could make the rules.  If only he knew how lucky he was to be almost seven.

Post race show off and crisis
We talked to Dreamer after his self-pity speech.   We mentioned all the things we noticed about his own race: how much more confident he seemed, how his swim improved, and how he didn’t stop once on the run.  He calmed down.

As compassionate as I was to Dreamer, as complimentary of his own accomplishment in the triathlon as I was, I realized it will never be enough for him.  He needs to learn to fill that need himself, and that will take time, it’s part of growing up.  If I am honest, I can see that I too sometimes need someone else to notice me, and if you are honest, I think you can see that in yourself, also.

After calming Dreamer, I turned to Fearless who was glowing with his medal. It might just be that he is still too young to go through a jealous bout, or that he still does not question as much as his brother, or that he is just different.

But I couldn’t help smiling at him who was smiling at himself, and showed the medal to anyone who would pay attention.

The next day, I overheard Fearless telling someone he could run this fast (as he shoots off in a sprint)simply because he got second place in a triathlon.  Little does he knowthat were it not for his mom and a lost sliver of time, he could run thatfast simply because he had won first place.

Picture perfect finish!


6 thoughts on “One Second That Didn’t Matter

  1. Sibling rivalry. Here we go. Oldest kids are fragile that way. They have high expectations and are used to a lot of attention. You guys are great parents and I can’t wait to hear more as they continue to grow and thrive!

  2. Cristina…as your boys grow up there will be many more adjectives/adverbs/nouns attached to their names. I should know, as I still have a Dreamer and a Fearless. They have exchanged names many times throughout the years (much to my delight). Great article!

  3. This is gorgeous. How cool that the whole family is into the sport. I’m the oldest too, and everything that my little brothers got to do, or did better, or got praised for made me jealous. Over time we learn to keep it in check – and you’re absolutely right, deep down we ALL want external validation 🙂

  4. Boy, kids are challenging. But you’re right, each has their own journey and no matter how hard we try to keep things equal and the least painful for them, it won’t change that. Love this post. My son has decided to run with me here and there and enter some races so I am very excited that I will be in your position soon cheering him on.

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