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Encouraging a different brand of competition

March 17, 2012
By SUMMER WALLACE-MINGER , Weirton Daily Times

The Sainted Child has the most interesting friends. When I say interesting, I mean unusual. And I mean that in the best possible way. If she were friendly with a bunch of Stepford Children, I would be worried. And double-checking the local cornfields.

There's the little girl who is fascinated with scissors. And the child who is completely enamoured with Harry Potter and environmentalism. There's the kid I fondly call the "Greek Orthodontist," because, at 6-years-old, Sainted Child came home after a share-your-heritage day at school and breathlessly declared her good friend was a Greek Orthodontist. I had to explain the difference between "orthodontist" and "orthodox" to her.

And then there's He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Pretty sure every child has a kid like this in their life - the one they're running neck-and-neck with in just about every area in which they shine. That kid you just want to see your kid totally annihilate, just the one time?

Or maybe that's just me.

I am sure No-Name is a perfectly nice kid. I know he's smart, because he keeps showing up Miss Genius. However, being nice and smart means nothing when you're a roadblock to my child making valedictorian. (Insert evil laugh here.) ... in a few years. OK, five or six, but whatever.

I look at No-Name as a useful tool to inspire my child to even greater heights. In that vein, I encouraged her to (figuratively) grind him under her (figurative) boot heel of (actual) intellectual superiority.

"Just crush him," I told her. "Make him crawl on his belly!"

"Momma, I can't do that," Little Miss Serene Sunshine tells me. "That's not nice."

"Just crush him a little?"

"No, Momma, he's nice. I don't want to crush him."

"A tiny bit?" I held my fingers two inches apart to indicate how tiny.

"No, Momma."

"Little tiny bit?" I held them an inch apart.

"Momma, I said no. Crushing people isn't nice."

"It's not an actual physical crushing. It's more of a mental crushing. You might leave mental scars, but you wouldn't actually hurt him. Not for real."

"Mental scars hurt people, too," she lectured me. "I'm not crushing anyone."

"You disappoint me, child. You disappoint the Momma greatly." I slumped all over in defeat.

"You just like crushing people because you're an evil overlord, Momma."

She does have a (little, tiny) point.

The Long Suffering Husband thinks encouraging competition is unhealthy. (Clearly, Sainted Child takes too much after the LSH.)

"You're going to give her mental scars, not the other way around."

"I am not. Besides, I'm just preparing her for the dog-eat-dog world of corporate politics! You've got to be ready to stab anyone in the back, any time."

"You're being ridiculous. Besides, the odds of her joining the Peace Corps are much higher than her joining Wall Street. You'd be mad if she became a 'corporate drone,' anyway."

"I just want her to be happy ... and win."

"Being compared to No-Name isn't going to make her happy. And she'll win on her own merits. Stop it."

It's cute he thinks I listen. He may have said something else about good character, blah, blah, blah, but I wasn't listening.

I may have to go underground, but I will prevail.

Vive la Revolution!

(Wallace-Minger is The Weirton Daily Times community editor and can be contacted at She is a Weirton resident.)

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