And the Winner is …

Competition. There aren’t many people who enjoy good, friendly competition more than me. My tennis buddies will confirm this. A couple of them have even said I should become a motivational speaker because I like to talk while holding a tennis racquet. Just the other evening, one of my tennis friends was going to call it a night but decided to play another set after some friendly inspiration.

With three siblings, including both an older and younger brother, I grew up in a competitive environment. No one hated to lose more than my older brother, and he always challenged me to give 120%. Plus, speaking from experience, an older brother never likes to lose to his younger one.

My 10-year-old daughter, Jessie, is becoming more competitive, but this wasn’t always the case. On one occasion when Jessie played chess with a friend at school, she excitedly told me, “Rodney took my queen.” Trying not to drop my head, I told her it’s not a good thing when your opponent takes your queen. With that said, I’m proud of her for always being a good sport. Good sportsmanship matters more than winning. Jessie and I shake hands after each game we play, whether it’s basketball in the driveway or Chutes and Ladders on her bedroom floor.

Recently, I encountered a new competitor and I must admit, she is a worthy adversary. Her name is J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. Over the past few months, my wife and daughter have become addicted to her novels.

Mattie, my wife, reads Ms. Rowling’s work into the wee hours of the morning. Recently, I took a short trip and left Mattie with a present, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). A few nights before I left, she had finished the sixth book in the series. When I called her from my hotel room later that day, she found the book by her bedroom pillow. I could feel her smile over the phone. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but Harry Potter ranks right up there with Mattie at the moment. She’s going to have a lot more free time when she gets to the end of the last book.

Then, there’s my daughter, Jessie, who is a strong reader like her mom. Also like her mother, she is enthralled with Ms. Rowling’s work. Jessie has repeatedly encouraged me to read Harry Potter, as, in her opinion, it would make me a much better writer.

The competitor in me wants to say, “Okay, Ms. Rowling, bring it on!”

However, after watching my family’s eyes glued to the pages of her novels these past weeks, I think I’ll just thank her for inspiring me to improve my craft. Ms. Rowling, “Do you play tennis?”

It’s time to get Jessie’s perspective on competition? If J.K. Rowling and I had a writing contest, who do you think would win?

    Jessie, Age 10
    I like competition. Lately, I’ve become more competitive. I believe my father is a great writer, especially for just starting his career in 2011. However, J.K. Rowling is outstanding! She has written lots of novels. They are loads of fun to read. I enjoy her books very much! My father’s writing is very touching to the heart. Lots of other people can relate, while not many people can relate to being a magician. The final score, da da da da da da, J.K. Rowling wins. My dad needs to keep up the good work. He’s a close second.

The competitor in me doesn’t like to lose, but a close second to J.K. Rowling is encouraging. I will keep up the good work, so look out, Ms. Rowling. For now, in the name of good sportsmanship, I offer you my congratulations.

But whether I’m holding a racquet on the tennis court or reading Harry Potter, one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.

Until next month, remember to cherish the moments. Happy Holidays! Books make great gifts, and since many of you have already read J.K. Rowling’s books, why not give mine a try? MoMENts: A Dad Holds On, available on Amazon, won Second Place in the Published General Catch-All Genre of the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition, a service of the Florida Writers Association.

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