A friend told me a story once of an incident when he was in high school. He was sitting at his desk, sketching something, when the boy in front of him turned around to see what he was doing.
The boy in front of him, it should be said, was a football player.
My friend, it should be said, was (and continues to be) a nerd.
“What are you doing?” asked the boy.
“Drawing.” responded my friend.
“Why?” asked the boy, incredulous, “you can’t win at drawing!”
All the things you forget as an adult, or at least stop thinking about: how to poop while walking, how to slip effortlessly back into playing after you were weeping and wailing over whatever injustice befell you a minute ago, or why did I come into this room in the first place? It had something to do with cowboys.
It wasn’t until my little dude started running on his own, and thus wanted to race me constantly that I was reminded in no uncertain terms how vital was the toddler’s need to win.
Toddlers and wookies, everything goes smoother when they don’t lose.
I get the drive to win – I grew up in the U.S.A, I played Mariokart. I understand the idea of wanting to be, if not the best, then better than the other schmucks on Luigi’s Raceway.
But with little kids it’s almost pathological – they don’t want to win, they need to win. It doesn’t matter if he’s running against Usain Bolt, or swimming against the Sharktopus, if a 4 year old loses a race the best you can hope for is pouting. The Little Man has never in his life played a game of checkers. We break it out, I show him how to set it up, explain the rules to him, and despite the fact that he didn’t have the first idea how to play it not 2 minutes ago, if he doesn’t win the first three matches he may never play the damn game again.
It even goes as far as jokes. Little kids will try to win jokes. I had one boy lay out his strategy for beating the “interrupting cow/starfish/howler monkey” series of knock-knock jokes.
I think this is natural and harmless as far as things go. Though there is the school of thought that you shouldn’t let a child win. That you need to challenge them, instill a work ethic and a drive, make them earn their achievements.
There is such a school of thought, but this school of thought can suck it.
The world will beat my kid up. The world will challenge him and frustrate him and it will, I’m sure, do a more thorough job than I ever could. No. I’m just fine with losing. I’ve had plenty of practice and if I do say so myself, am quite accomplished at it. Reference the “nerd” in the title of this blog.
No, with Papa, it’s just gonna be fun. Races, wrestling matches, hide and seek – I’m perfectly content to find new and interesting ways to lose for a few more years. At least until we start playing Mariokart, then shit’s gonna get real.