In reality there is competition everywhere in life and nowhere more than in the world of new parenthood. Having taken some time off I have been going with eight month old Elsa to a number of classes and it’s impossible not to compare her development to that of the other babies there. It’s a kind of fruitless paranoia; whatever the others are up to, your little cherub will only catch up when they’re ready, there’s no forcing them. Yet still you can’t help but think ‘well, he’s crawling already but, on the other hand, Elsa’s first teeth have come through and his haven’t’. Rationally thinking you know full well that it’s likely that, in the course of the next few months, they’ll both have a full set of gnashers and be tearing around as fast as their little legs will carry them whilst we parents long for the days when you could plonk them down and leave them whilst you went off to make a brew.
To give you a bit of context, I’m writing this during the World Cup final; the culmination of a month of compelling action, leaky Brazilian defences and hungry hungry Uruguayans. In fact Roy Hodgson probably owes David Luiz and Luis Suarez a couple of bob each for shoving his boys’ abject failure off the back pages in record time. Yet despite the festival of football since Rooney and co. passed solemnly through duty free, grimly packing their hand luggage full of oversized Toblerones, there are still a hardy few who are intent on picking over the bones that the rest of us have been having too much fun to even notice.
My favourite social media scribbling blamed England’s demise on the lack of competition in Britain’s school sports days. Yes, for sure, if only Gary Cahill had been more determined with an egg balanced precariously on a spoon then he’d have nullified Suarez, no problem. It’s also worth noting that Brazilian and Spanish schools take sports days very seriously indeed and look where it got them.
If we now have a generation more comfortable to be taking part than winning at all costs then a) is that so terrible? And b) how come Britain did so well at the last Olympics, what pushed Andy Murray to snatch the Wimbledon title last year and was it just a fluke that Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, the last two champions of the world’s most gruelling and demanding cycle race, the Tour de France, have been British?
So perhaps for that Facebook moaner there is still hope, some of this parental pushiness surely has to rub off on the kids. Elsa could yet be cycling over that finish line in Paris wearing the yellow jersey. It seems unlikely though, the Tour came right past Burley-in-Wharfedale where we live in West Yorkshire as part of the Grand Depart last week and, despite the cheering, the sirens from the police cavalcade and 200 fellas speeding by on bikes just a metre away, she snoozed soundly throughout the whole shebang.
That very same weekend Elsa couldn’t sleep when her Granddad was snoring his head off two rooms away. If her slumber was not a withering display of her ambivalence towards the world’s biggest annual sporting event then it must mean that my Dad is louder than the Tour de France. An amazing achievement but then it’s not a competition is it?