At 3 1/2, my son Andy is finally at an age where he enjoys
sitting down for a board game. This is a great turn of events for
me personally, as my knees are starting to give out from climbing
after him during games of "Let's Pretend We Are Animals!" or "Let's
Push These Cars Around!" or "Let's Be Pirates Climbing Through This
Pirate Cave!" Finally, an activity with Andy that involves that
magical yoga position called sitting. My God, how I love to
The only problem is, new aspects of Andy's personality are
emerging as we play our board games and I am learning that Andy is
a very sore loser. The sorest of sore losers, perhaps. My first
hint at this came when he burst into tears and screamed after I
opened the Hungry, Hungry Hippos box instead of letting him open
it, thus winning the box opening portion of the game. My second
hint was when I actually won the first round of Hungry, Hungry
Hippos and he flung himself into a puddle of sobs and snot.
"Here, let's play again," I begged. I had not let him win that
first round because letting him win hadn't occurred to me. We were,
after all, stiff competitors in a race to gobble marbles and I was
taking my role of Orange Hippo very seriously. I managed to cajole
Andy into another round, though, and this time I restrained myself,
eating my marbles as slowly as if attempting to enjoy a small plate
of tapas at an overpriced cafe as opposed to a buffet of bouncy,
delicious marbles from the toy shelves of Wal-Mart.
So, of course, Andy won this round, and his grin was wide and
his battle cry was loud and joyous. "I WON, MOM!" he yelped. "I AM
THE BEST. YOU LOST! I WON BECAUSE I'M BETTER!"
Oh no. This wouldn't do either. And so we played again and I
decided to let that smug little jerk really have it. After I
victoriously gobbled more than my fair share of marbles, Andy's
eyes immediately rimmed with red, his lips trembling and
threatening to wail.
"Andy," I said slowly, "Mommy won. What do you say when somebody
"You say 'Congratulations,'" I pressed.
Andy stared at me and I could have sworn there was a small
amount of actual hatred contained in his glare. He opened his mouth
and in the tiniest, faintest, least audible show of bitter good
sportsmanship I have ever heard, whispered, "Congratulations."
"What's that Andy? Did you say something?"
Another whisper. "Congratulations."
I beamed. "Thanks Andy! Do you want to play again?"
Andy nodded and we played again. I alternated letting him win
and winning myself as subtle ways to build his confidence and then
humble him back down again. I think it's important to teach our
children that it's nice to win but nice when somebody else wins,
too. It's like when the runner-up in a beauty pageant offers the
real winner that huge, toothy smile and the I'm-so-happy-for-you
embrace. It's important to lose with grace, dignity, a whispered
congratulations and the ability to perhaps throw your tantrum
later, in private.
It's also important to me that my son doesn't think I'm a total
idiot who can never win preschool games and is not even half as
smart as her 3-year-old son. What kind of little boy respects a
mommy that can't win at nine card Memory? I mean, really. Now who's
up for a fight-to-the-death game of Operation?
Jackie blogs about the mostly joyous, sometimes painful, but always entertaining aspects of being a full-time mom to a couple of little lunatics.
See more of Jackie's stories here.
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