The friendly competition between René and myself began in grade one (back then Kindergarten was still non-academic) and continued on and off until I moved back up north. I have three memories of grade one: frequent nosebleeds, copying Luc et Martine va a l’école. off the chalkboard, and racing René to finish the math book.
I think our teacher had given up, toward the end of the year, trying to reign us in. She knew we understood the work and figured that by allowing us to work ahead she would buy herself some time without “I’m done, what next?” Unhindered, René and I checked in on each other daily at recess, to monitor each other’s progress. It became high competition.
Duyring the years that followed as we wove in and out of each other’s classes we maintained a tacit, mutual respect for each other. In grade five when we were involved in some quiz-show type game we gravitated to each to the same team, along with three other players, called ourselves “the Pentagon” and dominated the event. In grade eight, somehow still in the same math class despite the large secondary school we attended, when I would answer questions on “new” topics presented he would turn around and say, “how do you remember that? I know for a fact you slept through M. Paquot’s class last year!”
Last week I thought to myself that I’m not a competitive person. Immediately I thought of René, who hadn’t crossed my mind more than once since we moved in grade nine, and realized that there is a competitive veign in me.
The funny thing is, I don’t remember who won when we were competitors instead of teamates. I only remember both of us running, books in hand, up to Mme Beebe’s desk, trying to beat the other. I guess it was a tie. The lesson I learn about myself, however, is that I don’t care so much for winning as I do for a good challenge.