You never know what lessons will come from spending time with these little people. Sometimes it provides a chance to show your good stuff; and sometimes it becomes a mirror that sheds a nasty look at parts that need some fine-tuning.
A competitive nature learned to soften as I learned to put being a Gram in front of being a winner.
Born to Compete, But Not Kindly
I have always loved to play games – card games, board games, paper-based-pencil-in-hand games. The more thinking and strategy required, the better. My competitive spirit kicked into high gear at the very shuffle of the canasta cards. And I won. A lot.
But I was a terrible, horrendous winner. I solo-cheered for myself as if I had just reclaimed the colonies back to Mother England. Looking back, it was horrific. Embarrassing. Completely immature, and quite frankly, mean! It is why my husband has refused to play cards with me for years – I’m talking decades!
Beating me became the family mantra. And occasionally it happened. I lost. I didn’t especially enjoy it but I wasn’t the go-into-a-funk kinda loser for I knew, deep inside, without reservation, that there would be a rematch. Now that they had their rare taste of victory, I knew they would be back for more. And I knew I would be the victor.
Winning is Not Everything. Ever.
It was fun, this delight of the victor. Until it wasn’t.
One of my grands changed things for me. For the good.
He hates to lose. He doesn’t have just a sad face when he loses. It’s more like a mad-hornet losing face. And when he wins, oh my goodness, it’s even worse. His winning involves the ‘in-your-face, you loser’ rantings.
I don’t recall ever going quite where he goes, but I knew even a little reaction from me when I win would set off something painful in his heart.
How We Lose Reflects Our Heart
His reactions smack of ‘I am worth something cause I beat you’ insecurities. His little spirit dances when he has control over something, even something as inconsequential as a checkers game. In his mind, any win is monumental.
Any win lifts him up.
I still win sometimes when he and I play a game. But it’s a slower game, as I try to teach him how to think ahead, to make wiser moves, giving him lots of do-over moves.
I hope I am teaching him – and me – to win kindly.
To remember what it feels like when you don’t, cause others are feeling some level of that every time he wins.
To pull empathy into his heart, a lesson that took me years to adopt in my game-playing, but has taken firm hold since this little man emerged into our lives.
I cannot say that winning has become totally unimportant. But my competitive spirit has softened in this Gram-world.
It’s a new normal when the look on one of their little faces as they figure out how to play well becomes more important than a notch in my victory column.
How are you learning about yourself as a grandparent? Feel free to share in the Comments.