Who's the Winner Now?

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My son Ethan placed at his school's science fair and therefore he has
the honor of competing at the city level. Just when I thought the
science fair process had become completely painless for me, it of
course, becomes not painless.

He and his science fair partner did do all
of the work themselves. Although there was the one day when Ethan said
he needed to cut up two brand new pairs of running shoes in order to
complete the experiment. (The project is about which running shoes have
better cushioning for distance running. I'd tell you the winner, but
only if Nike promises to send me an enormous check.) My son wears men's
size 13 running shoes and as anyone who owns any men's size 13 running
shoes knows, the purchase of said shoes requires a home equity line of

"No," I told him. "No shoe surgery." 

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I mean honestly. I'm in favor of money for education, but I think I already spend enough in taxes and no one should have to spend that kind of money on a science fair project. Thankfully a less costly compromise was reached with their Science teacher and no dissecting of shoes was required. Unfortunately, Kyle is my aspiring scientist. Kyle's science fair project did not place. He does not get to go to the city competition and while he appeared to take his brother's success well, I could tell he wasn't particularly thrilled with it. 

Competition among siblings is to be expected. Competition among identical twins, I suppose, can be expected to be fierce. I've done what I can over the years to prevent it from escalating into something awful. I've often said, "Don't compete," but if we're completely honest, then we all know that's not realistic. They do need to understand that they will go back and forth, with one of them then the other getting a better grade/running faster/you fill in the blank here. I tell them a little competition can be good, in that it forces you to try harder, to push yourself. But you can't let it get away from you. You can't let it take over and run your life and that the most important person you'll ever compete with is yourself. If you feel you gave your best effort, that you are doing better than the last time, which won't be every time, then you've won. This is all wonderful advice coming from someone who is one of the most competitive women alive. The irony of this is not lost on my children.

We encourage the use of humor to soften the blows whenever we can. Hopefully the gentle teasings between the two of them blows off enough energy to prevent it from becoming real teasing or more seriously, real jealousy or anger.

The citywide science fair is Friday and Ethan gets to go. He gets to spend all day there. And he gets to miss a full day...off. At home. Because there's no school on Friday. And he's not particularly thrilled with that. As we were discussing the logistics of getting him there and back and how annoyed I was (because it just wouldn't be January in Chicago if I weren't annoyed by the Science Fair,  A City Mom, Science Fair 2007) that we'd heard nothing from his school or teacher about where and when he needed to be and for how long. Even Ethan showed a certain lack of enthusiasm for spending an entire day off at a school related activity and it was here that Kyle won. First place. With a perfectly timed and perfectly pitched quip: "Who's the winner now?"

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