Something happened on Thursday that has never happened to me, or anyone else I know for that matter. My daughter won a Blue Peter badge. Fall onto floor with shock and awe.I jest. This was actually a big deal for us. The poster she entered into the Design the Wimbledon 2013 Poster competition actually made it into the top 10 for her age group and onto our television screens! Picture mother and daughter doing a merry jig around the sitting room.
Ok, it’s hardly the stuff of winning a Nobel Peace Prize or winning the lottery. She didn’t actually win. You’d be forgiven for wondering if I need a holiday or therapy for finding this worthy of excitement.
But when we heard that over 3,000 children entered, getting into the top 30 is quite an achievement.
And for an 8 year old who puts her heart and soul into any piece of art she does, this is big stuff.
It’s big stuff purely and simply because it taught her that you can hope, you can dream and you can put your all into something and be rewarded – with public recognition and a rather useful badge that gets her into various child-heaven places like Alton Towers and Legoland (oh dear, was this really a good idea….)
It’s also big stuff for this 42 yr old who spent her youth being glued to the programme, stickyback plastic-ing everything in sight to look nothing like the ones they prepared earlier, and entering competitions knowing that I’d likely never see my work of art again as “we can’t return them”. That was enough to put me off entering many of them. That was the age before your dad could take a darn good photo of it on his phone before popping it in the post. Crikey, doesn’t that seem an eon ago…?
Its also big stuff because my clearly ridiculously competitive daughter had started to show competition fatigue aged 6 when, after entering a couple of competitions, she heard/got nothing back. And when you’re 6 that’s hard. Who as a parent wants to see or even encourage their child set up their hopes only to watch them come crashing down like the towering constructions they craft with duplo? I don’t and so have been reticent to encourage her to enter these things.
But there’s nothing like genetic disposition and youthful enthusiasm to scupper that: it was she who, to my great surprise, came bounding into the kitchen the other week saying how she must enter the latest Blue Peter competition to design Wimbledon’s poster for this year.
“Ok, my love, we’ll see what we can do” (realising we only had a few days to get the thing done and Easter weekend in the middle of that).
I was secretly really pleased she wanted to do this. Why? Because I know she’s brilliant at design and drawing, and also know that competitions can bring out the best in people by encouraging them to give their all in a given moment of time.
Now, you may be saying, hang on Siobhan, why are you endorsing the merits of kids competitions, when the underlying philosophy of your blog is to encourage us as parents NOT to compare ourselves with others or to engage in that most modern of practices, competitive parenting (which I happen to think should’ve been an Olympic sport, don’t you think?!)?
Well, I suppose, because this is a different kind of competitiveness. She didn’t do it to prove herself or her worth, and my encouragement wasn’t for that reason either. We entered it for fun, not really thinking she’d win, but with a small enough seed of hope to make her give it her all. That hope is what gives us a bit of fun and excitement to life, and what spurs us on to do our best.
That kind of competitive spirit is something that is worth encouraging.
So, if you want to see her poster on the gallery (along with the other entries which were brilliant, see esp the 12-14yr olds), check out this link here and scroll down to the Union Jack one, or if you watch it on iPlayer, its about half way through the show, and to the right of Barney’s left elbow…..