14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Welcome To The World Of Competitive Parenting

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Competitive parents

Don't you just loathe mothers who infer that their baby is somewhat superior to yours? Hello and welcome to the world of competitive parenting.

Round one may well begin when you and the most amazing baby ever to be born – yours - join the rest of the world and venture out to Mums and Tots. Odds are you'll meet at least one competitive mum – we'll call her Mimi.

You'll spot her because she has the uncanny ability to admire your baby yet at the same time leave you with the impression she's somewhat lacking compared to mini Mimi, who we'll call Prunella. Mimi has sonar ears and radar eyes so doesn't miss a thing.

She's likely to hone in on one drained and exhausted mum who has the 'temerity' to feed her baby with a bottle. Mimi will delight in recounting endless details about her positive breastfeeding experience - and if you're very unfortunate she may even whip out a boob and demonstrate. But she will also, oh so sweetly, sympathise with those unfortunates who have had to 'resort' to bottles.

It's of little interest to Mimi that babies are different and milestones no indication of whether our little cherubs have a future in astro-physics or not, because look everyone, Prunella is busy crawling and gosh she's only six months old!

How do you react? Well, you have options aside from punching her on the nose!

a) You can be nice and congratulate Prunella on her achievements- and of course Mimi - who will wallow, never mind bask, in reflected glory.
b) You can pretend not to speak any English – obviously only applicable on first meeting.
c) You can look at her with pseudo-sympathy and spout research you've read suggesting babies who crawl early are often slow to read.

Never be be lulled into complacency during all those cosy non-combative chats about the colour and consistency of poo. On the horizon looms the milestone possibly most feared - potty training. Prunella will obviously be potty trained well ahead of her peers and Mimi will be flashing big girl pants – and quite possibly her own matching pair – at every opportunity.


It won't end with crawling and big girl pants; in fact, it all rocks up a gear when you reach the school gate. The day your child brings home a book bag is the day even the least competitive amongst us would be grateful for a pair of x-ray eyes. God bless she who invented the book bag - what a woman!


Still she didn't account for those children who happily trip out of the classroom minus book bag, brandishing their Blue Level 1 picture books with maybe three words as Prunella prances past with Orange Level 9 with more words than your own child - and quite possibly you - can even articulate.

Again you have choices: 'you can turn the other cheek' or if necessary lie or deceive. I found a very easy way to deal with this when my youngest was learning to read. Regrettably I was a lax mother and forgot to return books, so having two older children meant I had my own Bonsai reading tree on the shelf at home. I used the book changing time to find 'real' books for my eldest as all the Mimis eyed me and my youngest suspiciously.

But isn't it all academic? No, actually, it isn't. We have the school nativity and sports day to contend with. I don't have a pelvic floor any more so I opt out of the mums' race but my goodness how I feel for the poor teachers who have to choose Mary and Joseph.

Can you imagine Mimi's face seeing Prunella with a tea towel on her head as a less gifted less beautiful Mary wows in a blue curtain?

So when does it all end as your childrenwork their way through the shelves of graded books and get to even bigger school and real exams. Is that finally it?

Well, it's different. You may see Mimi morph and divide into:

Excuses mother - she has a child who 'really could do so much better he's so talented but because of all other commitments he never has time'.

Secretive mother – she has the numbers of all the best home tutors but never ever shares them.

Deflated mother – she once delighted in telling of her 'gifted and talented child' and now has to backtrack all predictions of wonder child's achievements blaming the system, the teachers, and the world in general.

And lastly there's the mother of the real proven, super bright, high achiever Oxbridge bound child. There is no argument and no competition, so just gaze on him with awe and where necessary just ask, where does he get his talent from I wonder?

More on Parentdish:

School bag snoops and how to not get obsessed by your child's reading level

The 10 stages of motherhood

I don't care about YOUR baby's developmental milestones