Wednesday, May 13, 2015

And then there was Cooper Manning...

Do you think the Mannings ever sit around and argue about who the best player is? Now Peyton Manning is arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game. However, we have to remember, Eli has more rings. And then of course Archie is a Pro Bowl QB who has many accomplishments in his own right, though he never played on a winning (NFL) team, let alone won a championship. So what about Cooper? Poor kid. Rumored to have been more talented than his brothers, Cooper was unable to continue playing due to medical reasons. That’s gotta be rough, a life as “the other” Manning brother.

At J’s game on Saturday I was taking pictures on the sidelines, and a kid taking video for the other team approached me. That in itself was super awkward, because you know, who does that? But then all he said was, “The guy who scored that first touchdown, do you know who his brother is?” Because I was apparently supposed to be impressed not with the athletic prowess of one of their star players, but that someone on their team had an athletically gifted brother. How frustrating to be an incredible football player or pianist or juggler, only to be known and introduced as “______________’s brother.”

With R heavily involved in gymnastics for a good portion of her life, we’ve put a lot of effort into finding A other opportunities. He has enjoyed trying out t-ball, wrestling, gymnastics, and flag football over the last few years, but where he really hit his stride (pun intended) was in track. Last year he trained with J, ultimately running the 100 (3rd place, fastest qualifying), 200, and 400 (1st place) at the Iowa Games in Ames, IA.

When R expressed an interest in running track this spring, I was torn as a mom. We spend a lot of time on R’s activities – should I let her “take over” an activity where her brother is the one who gets to shine? But that’s not her fault, and I want her to be able to explore many opportunities, not just lock her into one from the time she is born. Will they compete against each other? Is that okay? Will that make them push themselves to be better, or will it cause resentment? Or maybe I’m making it into a bigger deal than it has to be.

This is one of those times where I don’t have the answers. I decided that in different age groups and different genders and because they are young that it would be okay for both kids to join the track club this spring. But what I want to be careful of is causing unnecessary resentment or competition. I never want any of my kids to be unnecessarily labeled “______________’s brother” or “_____________’s sister.” I want them to be independent and find success and happiness in their own right. Maybe that means helping them develop their own niche, I’m not sure yet.

I wonder if this will be harder as E gets older, having the boys being competitive. How do you handle these situations? Any good tips or suggestions for celebrating each child’s individual awesomeness and talents?

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