Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dear Win

Dear Win,

As you are the object of most kids' games and board games, you can make the lives of young children a bit stressful, to say the least. 

When I was little, to say that I was 'competitive' is an understatement.  If I lost at playing cards, games, or anything with a grown-up, my lips would pucker up so high they could touch the top of Mount Everest, and that would be followed by hot streams of tears that would roll down my cheeks in amounts equivalent to a year's worth of rainfall in the Amazon.  When I played Chinese chess with my grandpa as a little girl, he would always let me win. I knew that he did, and I just played along, pretending I didn't know, while enjoying every single win.  La-di-da.  The only time that I sucked up losses were when I played with peers.  'Cause we had to be 'grown-up' about it and not be 'babies'.  Oh the irony.

Well, it seems that my DNA has regenerated in a couple of law-unabiding juveniles under my roof, and the shoe is now on the other foot...

At the tender preschool age of almost-five, Dear Son plays games with a mind of his own.  DS and I played Hungry Hungry Hippos yesterday.  After 'ready, set, go!' we both go at the lever that controls the hippos' chomps.  I 'chomp' slowly, pushing around the marbles more than landing them in my reservoir.  The shoe is on the other foot now, remember?  Marbles are gone; DS wins.  Round two.  This time I chomp quickly since my opponent seems to need a challenge; I end up grabbing more marbles than I intended to.  DS immediately uses one hand to lift up his hippo's mouth, and with the other hand, swiftly and unabashedly scoops all the marbles into his reservoir.  Just like that.  Didn't even blink an eye.  I, on the other hand, was dying of laughter inside and trying not to show it.

Next, we moved onto Chutes and Ladders.  DS spins the wheel, moves his piece, and takes turns with flawless precision.  Oooops.  He has to slide down a chute, and he does so begrudgingly.  His smile reappears when I slide down another chute.  It is a wee bit harder to 'lose' this game since I cannot control the spinner, so DS is clearly more agitated if I'm ever in the lead.  Nearing the end, DS lands on the longest chute of the board.  Simply, he states, "I don't want to slide down the chute," and continues to take consecutive turns spinning and moving until he wins the game.  Just like that.  With the best poker face I'd ever seen.  I accept my loss as a gracious player, and DS is beaming with pride.

Finally, DS takes out Tumble, a game where marbles are suspended by criss-crossing sticks that are removed one by one, and the object is to let the fewest marbles land in your reservoir.  Except when you play with a four-year-old, the object is to WIN, so we try to collect the most number of marbles.  That's four-year-old logic for you.  With this game, I can 'lose' with confidence because I can choose which stick to remove, dropping none or few marbles.  But DS, on the other hand, wants to win so badly that he perceptibly touches all the sticks to see if any marbles move before removing the corresponding stick.  And oh goodness, no, we do not speak of the 'ch-' word.  Not at all.  I just sit back and marvel at his determination and will to win while he turns all those gears in that noggin' of his to do so.  That's my child!

Dear Daughter, being a few years older and wiser than her not-so-subtle brother, has come a long way, so much so that I've observed her using some of my tactics when she plays with DS.  Interestingly, when she plays with us, i.e. the grown-ups, modesty no longer applies.  Sometimes when she plays Wii games with DH and happens not to win, she climbs Mount Everest and visits the Amazon just like I used to.  What can I say?  She's a Mini-Me.  But to her credit, she is showing much more grace and poise about her ways and making me really proud of how she reacts to win-lose situations ever more than before.

Now that I find myself in my grandpa's role when playing with the kids, it's really humbling to be 'on the other side'.  It's coming full circle to knowing who you are, when to put your kids' confidence before your pride, and really internalizing what it means to be a gracious loser.  Having said that, just don't ever ask my Dear Husband about our on-going Wordfeud games.  Remember, with DH, I'm playing a peer, not a child, so I don't have to be the 'grown-up' and a gracious loser.  I fret, and rant, and gripe, and groan, and wail, and whine, and do all the shameless things you can imagine when I lose, which is like 9 out of every 10 games with DH.  Because I am a sore loser.  How's that for playing 'The Irony Card'?

Some say that you, Win, are not as important as playing and having fun.  I guess I am not qualified to preach that since, apparently, I'm a tea kettle, and that pot is black.



  1. I think it's interesting how that works. And I love that now you play "ok." My parents always let me win, and I turned into a miserable snot playing because of it. In our house, we don't let the wee ones win because I see it as building their confidence more when they genuinely do well and see themselves improving than when I fake it for them - but that's me. That and if you lose poorly, you can make the choice not to play anymore... partly put into place because we already have enough social issues that we can't handicap him more with needing to win everytime he goes against his peers.... It'll all work out someday though, right?

  2. Haha, Helen, you'd understand!

    Michelle, yeah, generally I'm 'okay', except with my own hubby =) That's just because I CAN pout with him. As for DS: he's only four, and I don't feel like he has the emotional maturity to be fair about winning and losing, especially at home with us. (Especially when these games are much 'luck-dependent' and not strategic at all.) That will come with development and maturity, much like the way it did with DD. One of my points is that we all deal with win-lose situations differently at home and out of the home. Since home is a safe place, we get to 'express' ourselves a bit more, if you know what I mean! =) With their peers, the kiddos are much more mature about it! I am SURE it will all work out one day.