I am a good sport. You name the game, be it with a ball, a board, or a deck of cards, and odds are I will be up for the challenge. I love friendly competition, and I am not a sore loser. That said, I really, really like to win.
I am practiced at hiding my competitive streak. I can ‘nice game’ you and smile in the face of defeat, with very few exceptions. The problem is that I am related to all of the exceptions.
I cannot lose gracefully to my brother. Three years his senior, I spent the first 10 years of my life being taller, faster, and more coordinated than he. The past 20 years have found me struggling to adjust to my role as underdog. Playing anything against him is doubly embarrassing because first I lose and then I get appropriately teased for being inappropriately upset.
I cannot lose gracefully to my husband. He is not super competitive by nature, but he loves to beat me simply because I find it intolerable. Our marriage is rock solid.
And now I have sheepishly begun to realize that I cannot lose gracefully to my oldest son. I routinely let his younger brothers beat me at War and Candyland. But with older kid games, like Othello and spit and basketball — you know, games that it is actually important and life affirming to win — well, I will not go down without a fight.
Until recently this was not an issue. My abilities and attention span far surpassed his. And since I was clearly the queen of all recreational pastimes I was secure and benevolent enough to go easy on him. But little by little he is becoming quicker and more strategic. He is developing mad gaming skills while mine are plateauing at best.
Suddenly, he has started winning without me having let him. I have been kind enough to teach him all these games, and he has the audacity to get good enough to beat me – the ungrateful brat!
So I lose, (on rare occasions only. I am still queen. Name the game and I will prove it right here!) and I get a little bothered. But since I am a firm believer in teaching good sportsmanship and calm acceptance of defeat I have to sit there and pretend like losing ain’t no thing… I tell him how big he’s getting, how smart he is, and how much fun it is to play with him; and how I would’ve won if the sun weren’t in my eyes and how about we play a different game where the odds are more in my favor?
I love that we genuinely enjoy spending time together, and don’t get me wrong, I am (begrudgingly) proud of his success. I always knew that one day the student would become the master - I just hoped that when that day came I could retain the status of grand master or master emeritus.
Thorough investigation reveals that there are no support group meetings in the tri-county area for my specific issue, so I am bravely outing myself in the blogosphere in hopes that admitting the problem will be step one towards the solution.
My name is Kally and I need to get better at games.
What? You thought my problem was being over-competitive with my own kid? Seriously, sometimes it’s like you’re not even listening to what I’m saying.