I win!

by DaniGirl on October 24, 2005 · 13 comments

in Uncategorized

True confessions time. Having children was not a completely altruistic thing for me. I had, in fact, not one but two hidden agendas.

First, I wanted someone to play catch with me. Beloved is an upstanding citizen, outstanding father and extremely patient husband, but he is not in any way, shape or form a sports fan. Oh how I miss the simple ritual of a good game of catch.

Second, I wanted someone to play board games with me. Beloved does get a better score on board games than on catch – last year, for example, he bought me classic Othello for Christmas, and feeds my habit with patient regularity. But I want more! One of the longstanding images I held in my heart when imagining my family at some future date is of all of us sitting around a table, eating junk food, laughing and playing board games like something out of a Milton Bradley commercial.

All that to say, I was thrilled when I recently brought Candyland home for Tristan, and he became instantly obsessed with it. I’d managed to miss this family classic during my formative years, and it’s a good thing, because we’ve played enough of it over the last three months to last anyone a lifetime.

I thought it was the game that has caused Tristan’s recent obsession with winning, but after reading Phantom Scribbler’s post this weekend about her son’s competitive streak, I’m thinking maybe it’s just an age/stage thing. I’m not an overly competitive person myself. I really do love to play much more than to win (those of you who have witnessed my stunning lack of athletic prowess in person will attest that this is a good thing.)

But Tristan really hates to lose. He will tolerate losing at Candyland only if we can play another game immediately. (My son, the optimist. I’m so proud!) I’ve treaded carefully, trying not to put too much emphasis on winning or losing, but it’s an uphill battle.

I think learning how to lose is as important as learning how to win. I have to admit, there have been a few times when it was tempting to literally stack the deck, smoothing his path to Candyland victory when I know there’s a tantrum ahead if he doesn’t win. But so far, I’ve resisted. I’m not even sure if I buy into the whole Timbits sports thing, where they don’t keep score for preschool soccer or hockey games.

Up until this point, as his parents we were pretty much in control of everything, but as he gets older I realize that I’m not the puppetmaster, somehow directing everything he says and does. I can set him up to do his best, but he’s got to do the doing – for better or for worse. I can model good behaviour, and I can rationalize with him to a point. But in the end, if he decides that winning is more important than sharing the opportunity to win then that’s his choice to make. It’s further complicated by my desire to ensure Simon gets a chance to win sometimes too.

Sometimes I do wish there was a parenting score card, though. I’d’ve scored bonus points for easy potty training, but minus two for too much TV. Bonus points for good manners, minus five because Tristan hasn’t eaten a vegetable in six weeks.

What do you think? Is it an age/stage thing, this obsession with winning? Am I being one of those granola moms when I try to play down the whole winning thing? Or is this just my neurosis du jour?

Edited to add: After wondering all morning if this was the most boring post ever and thus explaining the lack of comments, I have since realized that Haloscan is down. You can type your comments, but get a white screen when trying to post them. Phew, at least it isn’t personal!

Edited again to add a HOORAY for a clever blogger (found via Phantom Scribbler) who came up with a workaround. On Haloscan’s setting page, go to Beta and turn off the spam redirect feature. Comments will post, but the counter will not be accurate. Close enough!


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Danigirl October 24, 2005 at 6:54 pm


2 Phantom Scribbler October 24, 2005 at 7:16 pm

Hooray! We have the technology…
My most pressing issue is definitely the problem of the older sibling always winning at the expense of the younger. Like today at the Cheerios snack bar (a fancy name for when I dump cheerios on the coffee table for a snack), LG climbed up on the table and gobbled all of the cheerios up while Baby Blue attempted to grab one measly cheerio. “I won!” he yelled.
Um, WTF? We have boxes and boxes of cheerios. There is NO NEED to make a contest out of starving Baby Blue, you know?

3 beth October 24, 2005 at 7:21 pm

Hey at least you GET comments! :-p
All right… I think (coming from a mother of an almost three year old) it might be an age thing. Like the whole– no Mom, it IS a dinasour, when it is clearly a dog conversation that happened last night.
And a parent scorecard–cool, but I am a fraid being held accountable for my actions might just freak me out.

4 Elizabeth October 24, 2005 at 7:38 pm

Daniel is 4 1/2 and is obsessed with winning. The one good part of it is that he’s decided that getting dressed in the morning is a contest, and he wants to beat his brother. It definitely makes getting him ready for preschool easier.
We’ve avoided Candyland, but play Sequence for Kids and Chutes and Ladders. We’re explaining to him that if he’s a bad sport (e.g. gloats about winning, sulks about losing), no one will want to play with him. But it takes a long time for the message to sink in.

5 Ann October 24, 2005 at 8:09 pm

I was getting very frustrated with Haloscan last night. Tried to post a few comments, only to have them disappear in a non-cloud of smoke. (Okay, I’m melodramatic today.)
My Dad was EXTREMELY competitive (still is!), so we all had to learn how to play games growing up, whether we wanted to or not. If he lost, he’d make you stay up late playing more games until he won!!! (He’s a lovely man, but, as I said, competitive!!!) ๐Ÿ™‚

6 Ann October 24, 2005 at 8:10 pm

As for the parent score card, I’m all for it as long as we can fill in the score card in eraseable ink — and as long as the kids don’t get to see it. I mean, if they compared score kids and it turned out you had blown it worse with one kid than with the other kids — I mean, that could end very badly! What if they hired a lawyer and wanted compensation for the point spread?

7 Ingrid October 24, 2005 at 8:42 pm

When I realized my first 2 kids were both very competitive, AND we liked playing board games, I had a brilliant idea (somehow) – still in effect today. If we were playing with 3 people, the “loser” was called the 3rd winner, the next “loser” was called the 2nd winner, and the real winner was called the 1st winner.
We avoided tears, everyone was happy, and we still use the system, although jokingly now – they’re 14 and 16 and can cope a little better.

8 nancy October 24, 2005 at 9:09 pm

FINALLY….been trying to post comments since last night.
This is too funny! We are also starting to notice certain “I win I win”. It works in our favour when the race is to brush one’s teeth, but against us when the race may be to the toilet when both have to go at same time (messy).
We play Cariboo and have to take turns to make sure everyone gets a chance to win, or else there are tears. I was recently wondering about Candyland for them – was a big fan when I was little. I think we’ll try it!
I definitely try to ‘play down’ the damn I win/I lose (pout tantrum) thing. Wish us luck.
And yes, I do think you are neurotic, and I’ll gladly share this neurosis with you. tee hee

9 Running2Ks October 24, 2005 at 10:18 pm

Oh I am so glad Haloscan is back up and running. I had such a time since yesterday posting comments.
My parents never really let me win when I was young (beyond the part of teaching me the game).
So, I do the same for my kids. I think that teaching them to “lose” or “enjoy another personal winning” is a good deal.
I still don’t know how you missed Candyland. ๐Ÿ™‚

10 jo(e) October 25, 2005 at 2:12 am

I am 44 and am still fiercely competitive. So I am not sure it’s an age thing. But as I got older, I learned to hide my competitive streak beneath a veneer of politeness and goodwill.

11 kris October 25, 2005 at 3:20 am

I hate to lose, too. That’s why I don’t want the parent scorecard. The TV is on WAY too much now that I have the baby–and I don’t even have potty training points to balance it out!
Sounds like you’re doing a great job of helping Tristan appreciate competition in a sane manner.

12 SilverCreek Mom October 25, 2005 at 1:10 pm

Arrggghhh i posted yesterday and Poof it’s gone.
Nathan is big on the I win thing a lot lately although we haven’t gotten him a game. I guess I will do that this Christmas but knowing him he will use all the pices to load intohis trucks. That’a what he does with crayons. I have to hide them. They make great logs mommy.
And when I first got married; Eons ago. My youngest BIL was a big game kid. He was 5 and he would play and play and then when he was loosing he swipe the game pieces across the room so no one would win. (He still has big control issues) The last time we played with him he sent a glass across the room and broke it. I still haven’t played a board game with him and he’s now 28. LOL!
So I think it’s mostly an age thing.

13 Renee October 25, 2005 at 7:17 pm

I tried to post a comment to this TWICE yesterday with no success, and frustration got the best of me and I gave on you, Dani. Sorry. I haven’t the strength to type it all again. But, boring, you are not.

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