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.
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.