Josie, for the win!

Josie, for the win!

In 3rd grade, my teacher gave us a pop-quiz on percents. She graded them, then announced the highest score (not me) and congratulated the student. After she finished, I stood up and announced I would crush the winner through any means necessary.

Our teacher nervously tittered, then quickly steered the class towards Arts ‘n Crafts. I stayed behind and checked out every math text I could find. It was when I did a victory lap around the former Percent Princess after beating her in the next pop-quiz that my teacher took me aside.

“Education isn’t a competition, Josie,” she told me.

“My name on the Top Class Spellers list says otherwise,” I replied.

And thus began my childhood quest for being the best ever in the whole wide world forever. If elementary school was a competition (which it totally was) then I would win. This went for everything else too. If there was a way to keep score, no matter how much of a stretch you had to make, I would do it. Gold stars in class, the amount of toys I got at Christmas, which side of the car I sat on,  how many blades of grass I could count while running through a field, the number of braids I could put in my hair versus the rest of the girls in my class (379 to a pathetic 57), who had to breathe more–all were up for contest.

This philosophy doubled if it was against my brother. No hero every had such a tricky foe as Luke, and no UN peace treaty could ever compare to the amount of wheedling and cajoling our family did to try and get us to get along. My father even attempted to curb our fighting by imposing the Solomon Solution; one sibling cut the thing we were fighting over in half, the other choose which side they want. We did this once, very carefully cutting a cookie into two equal pieces, then furiously punching each other until one was left in tears while the other made off with both halves of the snickerdoodle.

Looking back, we solved a lot of problems that should have been solved through decency and maturity, with punching.

Despite all this, I never thought of myself as especially competitive. That’s probably because I was comparing myself to my parents: my mother, for instance, who at 5 foot 2 and 90 pounds in middle school and the only girl on the football team, was kicked out for “use of excessive force.” Or my father, a mild mannered scientist who wouldn’t hesitate to demolish you, a 6 year old, in monopoly, or snarf the food off your plate if he felt you were “too slow”to finish. No, if there was a way to win it, or punch through it, the Camaione-Campbells were there.

This didn’t mean we actually WON. Oh god no. We were terrible at winning things, which only prompted the second Camaione-Campbell hereditary trait to emerge: complete and utter apathy. My brother and I quickly dismissed athletics, physical exercise, or tasks requiring us to do more than coast on innate skill. Academics we excelled at, which just confirmed how much better we were than everyone for all time. Anything and everything else didn’t count.

Now, being an adult in the real world, I understand things don’t work that way. Some things you win, some you lose, sometimes you’re the best and other times you’re just not. At times like the latter, I like to turn to the rules of my favorite sport and think on them as an analogy for life. Something to remind me to keep going, even when it seems I’m stuck in a losing streak.

That sport is Calvinball.

I win the blog! You lose! Now, you all have to sing a song about how great I am! Also, add a stanza about tigers.