Every morning on the commute to day-care we drive by a farm. There is a large stable on the premises, and on mornings when the weather is favorable a number of horses can be seen outside in the pen. I like to slow down as we pass to give the kids a good look.
“How many horses did you see, Dominic?” asks Sofia.
“One!” the little man chirps his reply.
“How many horse did you see, Mama?”
“Three!” I respond.
“You saw three, Dominic saw one, and I saw two, so I win!” she exclaims in triumph.
There is no logic to this game. There actually were three horses out that day so how I lost is anyone’s guess. In Sofia’s eyes, however, the point to the game is clear. No matter what the scenario, it is her game and she is always the winner.
Whenever we play Candy Land and Sofia shuffles the deck, the ice cream cone which rockets the player to the top of the board is always the first card picked. It is no coincidence that Sofia always insists on going first. If I try to switch it up and suggest that I go first, the same card is mysteriously found to be the second card in the draw. “I’m winning!” she exclaims.
I call her out on it from time to time. She cheats like mad; always trying to skip my turn, to move three blues instead of two, to suddenly recall that it is my turn and not hers when that peanut shows up sending the next player back to the beginning.
It is a game of chance after all, so when I am diligent on the rules she is not always the winner. She may eventually concede defeat, but not for long. We’ll just move on to the best out of three, the best out of five, someone save me the best out of seven. By game seven, even I do not mind the reappearance of that ice cream cone to send her to victory.
This urge to win, it permeates into all aspects of her life.
“I made it to the top of the stairs first, so I win.”
“I got dressed first, so I am the winner.”
When she dawdles and her brother is dressed first, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a ride on The Tantrum Express. In general I do not mind it so much, this drive to succeed, to be the best, to win. I hope to a certain extent she will always have that fire within.
But there needs to be a balance. I am trying to teach her to play fair and accept that sometimes she cannot win, that sometimes watching a friend win is also entertaining. I hope that someday she will find joy simply in playing the game.