Winning Isn’t Everything, Unless You’re the Loser

In our house, someone is always up for a game. Cards, checkers, chess, football, dominoes, or one of several we’ve made up through the years. Balls in the Hall, anyone? We take turns rolling balls down the hall. The person who comes closest to the door at the end of the hall without hitting it, wins. We made that up before we ever even played bocce. And we thought we were onto something.

As our kids have gotten older, my husband and I have introduced them to Yahtzee, Scrabble, Sequence, Ratuki, and more, bending the rules if necessary so everyone can play.

Games teach skill, strategy, quick thinking, problem solving, computing. They teach kids about winning and losing. Unfortunately, for someone in this family, losing does not come easily. In fact, my husband and I make this person agree beforehand that there will be no fussing during the game. There will be no crying. No card throwing. There will be no fits whatsoever if he loses. Oops. Did I let on that it was my son?

Nearly every game that he loses ends in tears, and it’s been that way for nearly all of his nine years. It’s so bad that every now and then, one of us, including his seven-year-old sister, will let him win so we won’t have to endure the agony that is to come.card games

As much as we all hate it, my son has no one to blame but his father. My husband does not like to lose, though he is no longer prone to tantrums and throwing clubs like his parents will tell you he did during the infamous putt-putt game when he was a boy.

This trait did not come from me, oh no, it did not. My childhood games were spent dealing with a sister who cheated at Monopoly. I always called her out. I never cared whether I got Boardwalk. I could care less if she had more houses or hotels or money than me. I just had to pay attention that she wasn’t slipping some extra pastel cash into her hands. I made sure she played nice.

At least my son isn’t a cheater, but his competitive streak can be unbearable. I try to remind myself that competition can be a good thing. I never cared about winning or losing, mostly because I didn’t excel at anything. I didn’t have the drive.

Even so, I don’t particularly like having to deal with my husband’s childhood paybacks. It’s not really fair to the rest of us. But I quietly endure the losing fits, chuckle, and tease my husband, saying, “He’s just like you.” I do this because I know my paybacks are still to come—when my daughter enters the teen years.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Winning Isn’t Everything, Unless You’re the Loser

  1. Thought I was in for the same with my son until he told me the other day the two of us should work together to beat Dad at Spiderman Uno. I don’t know how that works, exactly, but I am glad to go along with it!

  2. 1. I always found it easiest to win Monopoly if I spent most of the game in jail. 2. Your son’s rebellion at losing will be a positive trait at college parties during drinking games. 3. Keep up the game playing, even with a losing tantrum it is a great way to bring peace to the family. We are about to go on a family trip with our adult children, and I packed cards for that very purpose.

    • Ack! I don’t want to think about drinking games! Of course, I was probably always the lightweight loser. Hmm. I’m sure my son will be better for this, somehow, some way. It may pay off in his future and I’ll have that aha moment and be a proud mama. And of course tell everyone about his card-throwing days.

      Have a great trip. Glad to see you around again. :)

  3. omg – i love my son has no one to blame but his father!! haha! i have the same thing over here. i wish we could all just get along, but it seems the only happy ones in the house are the winners! ;)

  4. We had a breakdown the other night because one got 8 matches in memory and the other got 7. I can’t stand it!

  5. lisa

    I purposely beat my kids when we play games. I figure I should enjoy it now. It’s getting tougher to beat the six year old all the time. :)

  6. Your son should play with my 2 sons. We parents can sit in the gallery and watch the fireworks after every whatever game they’re playing – oh boy, just the thought of it makes me drool with anticipation!

  7. That was always my sister in our house! You’d think the fact that playing games always ended in her throwing a huge tantrum would have put her off, but every Christmas she would ask for yet more games. And still does…

    All massively successful people must be competitive, no? Your son will go far! x

  8. I’m already there with the teenaged daughter. Now I know what my mom meant when she’d tell me, “Just wait until you have kids!”

    My teens get competitive, too, when we play family games.

    Thanks for liking my post on my blog! I look forward to more of your posts. :)

  9. K. Eley

    We love games at our house too. Could it be that your sister was getting back at you for something? (i.e., bunny ears) ;)

  10. Did I tell you about the time I was worried Dimples would be upset that we tied in Tic-Tac-Toe, and she looked at the board and said, “We both win!”? I think I am more competitive than she is, and my husband could not care less!

    • Everyone in this house is more competitive than me, but it’s so nice to play with my daughter. When we play Trouble together, we play nice most of the time and try not to send each other back home. But a lot of times when it’s all of us, she is the winner, even when she was five. I seriously wonder sometimes if that is what sent my son over the competitive edge.

  11. Haha! We don’t play games because we have not one, not two, but THREE of those losers. Never fun for the rest of us when any of them don’t win. One is challenged by his limited understanding of the percentages (even a 50-50 chance of a coin toss is difficult), another frustrated by his own lack of forethought (his sister is the QUEEN at planning ahead), and the other — well, she’s just too young and a tantrum-thrower when it suits her.

    Me? I tend to play games with my kids where there are no winners or losers in order to preserve what remains of my daily sanity stores. That may be changing this year now that we’ve created a functional family table the gameroom. Perhaps we can break in the game table seating 6 with a nice, respectful, quiet game of spoons. Oh boy.

  12. I blame my husband, too! Our daughter still struggles with losing and we make her promise to lay off the fussing also! I love our family game nights and hope to make them a more regular part of our 2013. Now, I’m off to Amazon to find out about Ratuki!!

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