Monday, October 24, 2005


I win!

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!