Thursday, November 13, 2008


My four year old son has suddenly figured out that he strongly prefers to win. When he turned three, he didn't have this. It's new.

For his third birthday, his grandmother gave him Candyland. Many people have played it with him (thanks, yall, I know you're taking one for the team...) and they are really good about not just letting him win. We started this very first game as a you-win-some-you-loose-some proposition, and it was fine. We were hoping it would develop in to an equanimity about winning or loosing, an enjoyment of the game for the fun of playing, an ability to be happy for the winner whether or not it is you. That worked for a while.

Today James and I were realizing that we've now had a couple of complete meltdowns when Zack said "Let's see who can get up the stairs first!" and he wasn't the winner of this important race. I guess the problem with that particular contest is that we're old and slow and couldn't physically accomplish you-win-some-you-loose-some.

A few weeks ago James took him to a high school football game, just for the fun of going (and, I think, for the snacks). Zack was very interested in who should win. They decided to pick a team and cheer for them and when the team won (in overtime!), Zack was thrilled.

Two weeks ago, when the Longhorns played Texas Tech, I think he was as shell shocked at the last minute loss as I was. We tried to say "Oh, it was a good game, it's fun to win, but we can handle it when we don't win." Maybe our hearts weren't in it.

And then we had this conversation on the morning of Wednesday, November 5:
Mommy, who did I vote for?

Me: You didn't exactly vote, honey, but you were a good helper when we went to vote and they did give you your own sticker.
But did I vote for Mr. McCain?

Me: Sweetie, you didn't vote for either. Remember how old you have to be to vote?

Eighteen. Eighteen and I'm only four. Yeah.

Me: But would you like to know who won the election?

Yes, yes I would!

Me: Barak Obama won the election, so now we call him the President-Elect. That means he was elected and will be the president soon.

Oh, Ok. So. So, I voted for Mr. Obama.
Ah, revisionist history. I don't think he's alone in this one.

I don't think we can blame school for this. It's possible that we should blame our football watching. But, I think it's more like human nature. And, not to let Zack's parents off the hook too easily, but it's better than the alternative of apathy. It just isn't better than the alternative of working to win and loving others regardless. I guess our job turns out to be much harder than just not letting him win.

Maybe that's not all bad, because I really can't make it up the stairs before him.

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