Whether it’s cramming for a theology paper or shooting baby hoops, finishing the race is what matters.
By Clinton Dixon
As I was busy preparing for mock cell group evaluation and exams the last week of May, my 1-year-old son Austin had been preparing for his own test, as a top 10 finalist for his first ever baby contest. Typical baby milestones of eating solid food, learning to walk and the first spoken utterances quickly become irrelevant when baby contest glory is in view.
It all began innocently enough when my wife sent in a rather innocuous picture of Austin in a rather drenched state at one of the local water parks. Some 548 entries later, Austin found himself competing on stage for the title of Little Carrefour Ambassador 2012 last Saturday afternoon.
It was my first experience in what can only be dubbed a baby talent quest. My wife and I entered the competition about as naïvely as you can get. My mind was conjuring up wacky notions of Olympic-styled random drug/gender testing and falsification of birth certificates, which is the case when stakes are presidentially high.
My worst fears were all put to rest when the contestants’ parents met at a pre-contest briefing at Carrefour two weeks prior to the event. I met parents whose hopes were more centred on their children not melting down at the event and overflowing their nappies than any immediate goal of actually winning the event. I knew deep down this contest was going to be a war of attrition and winning wasn’t exactly going to be child’s play for team Austin.
Come contest day, everything was looking good and we were confident (though for Austin it was business as usual). Austin was his typical bouncing baby self and much like an F1 team we were aiming at a one pit strategy for the race (ahem, contest) which involved sleeping and feeding him a few hours before the event and hoping he won’t fade during the contest.
His first event was the mother and child introductions and he handled it with aplomb. Second event was a talent show of sorts and we got our boy wonder dressed in the smallest basketball outfit known to man to shoot a few shots into a pint-sized basketball hoop. Again everything worked out fine as he wobbled his way to the basket and made the shot (well, more like dropped the ball in the hoop).
Then came the last event, the baby race. This was where things got a little unstuck. With visions of Usain Bolt in his head Austin swept aside his peewee competition in the heats and strode confidently to finals. He was leading the last race right until the last few steps when he decided to stop dead in his tracks and clap for his opponent’s eventual victory. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry (I think I did both).
Once all the noise and excitement died down, Austin was awarded the second runner-up spot, and with that my exhausted wife and I both agreed that this was going to be our first and last baby contest.
It’s funny how your children’s lives often parallel your own. As much as Austin’s goal was not to melt down at his featured event, I too was in a similar predicament—facing my first exams in over nine years and not wanting to lose the plot in the process. Facing down two one-hour multichoice exam papers (120 questions each) had me camped out in preparation for most of the previous week at the National Library of Singapore, as I reacquainted myself with the long lost art of cramming and exam study.
The first paper tested us on the fundamentals of our faith; I finished the paper 20 minutes early and was thus feeling very confident for the second paper, which was based on less straight-forward stuff such as human logistics at the Second Coming. From question one onwards, it became apparent that I had a battle on my hands. The difficulty level had been ratcheted up a notch or two and I just managed to finish within the time allowed.
Austin and I, though a little worse for wear, both stayed the course, finishing the race set before us. We may not have come first but we can savor the victory all the same.