There’s a misconception out there that playing games with your kids is a family bonding, tender moment kind of thing. It’s just not as easy as one might think. My daughter was born with a fierce competitive spirit, a trait I believe we give credit (blame?) to her dad. In Kindergarten they were learning to count, and sent the kids home one day with a “game you can play with your family”. There it was, the connotation that this is supposed to be all in good fun. It was a game that reinforced numbers and addition as you roll the dice to see how many spaces you advance. So my daughter pulled out this game and begged me to play. She thought it was going to be fun.
I knew better.
In an effort to be politically correct I asked the objectives to the game… “So, the first person who gets to the end, that means the game is over and we get to play again?” (Do you see that? Do you see how I never said “win” or “lose”? Do you see how I was trying to make it sound non-competitive? It’s all about the FUN of getting to play AGAIN!”) As the game proceeded I began to panic because I realized that I was going to “win”, and based on experience I didn’t think she would take it well. My game piece crossed the finish line and I waited for the outburst of unfairness, bouts of pouting, and stomping off. Except, in a rare turn of events, there was none of that. I couldn’t believe it! My head began spinning and I remembered all the times I tried to reinforce the “love of the game” over “winning” to my daughter and was giddy at the realization that my unbelievable parenting was finally paying off. I fantasized about an awards ceremony where I walked up to the podium to retrieve my well-earned, bronzed macaroni and cheese box that says “Best Overall Mom” when Samantha says, “Okay Mom, you win. Let’s write down your points.” (Points? Nobody said anything about points.) “The winner,” she continued, “gets 500 points.” (She wrote down my name with 500 points after it.) “The loser,” as she wrote down her name, “gets 600 points!”
Nevermind that trophy.