Even The Losers


There is nothing wrong with losing. A loss is like a mistake – they happen so we can learn from them. Duh. Of course with boys, or more like – my boys in particular, they’ll repeat the same mistake about fifty times before they have me wondering if they might possibly be insane.

When the boys were five and three, we used to play a memory game. The first to get the correct answer would get a point – five points to win a round. Although we played several rounds and there was no prize, neither of the boys could stand losing. The loser would throw a complete tantrum in the fashion of John McEnroe minus the tennis racquet, and entirely miss the point of the game, which was to exercise their feeble memory. They needed to learn how to cope with disappointment.

So I took them to Toys R Us, spent an hour there testing out a bunch of cool toys and didn’t buy them anything. Afterwards, we went to Dunkin’ Donuts and came out with nothing but an ice coffee for mommy. Nope – no donuts either.

It seemed like a reasonable plan to teach them that they don’t always get what they want. Ultimately, however, they learned that it’s better to go to Toys R Us with daddy – he’s a sucker. While to this day, they’re still rather sore losers. It’s all daddy’s fault.

At the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby, my husband was so irate that nobody from our pack won anything that he rallied up all the other dads and determined that next year, we were doing our own derby race. “Screw them!” He yelled, as we gathered up our losing derby cars. Knowing that Samu would mimic his dad and say, “screw you,” instead of thank you on the way out, I told them right then and there that there was no way in Hell I would organize a Pinewood Derby race. Not without beer, anyway.

Honestly though, the boys weren’t upset, they knew it wasn’t all about winning. But daddy?

In the movie, Searching For Bobby Fischer, the chess coach (played by the tea horking Ben Kingsley) says a quotable line, “To put a child in a position to care about winning and not to prepare him is wrong.”

I should’ve listened to Gandhi and prepared the big guy. My bad. I’m not joking when I say he’s the biggest child in our house. There are times the three of them go at it – calling each other names, smacking heads, punching blubber and kicking each other’s butt, like literally – that I have yell, “Daddy! Really?”

In my opinion, girls are better at losing. I’d like to believe it’s because we’re patient, positive thinkers but the truth is, we’re scornful. We never forget, as opposed to boys and their single cell memory. Go ahead, ask a boy any question about school, what they did, what they ate, their mom’s name – and 80 percent of them will say, “I dunno.”

So given the resiliency of children, it’s befuddling to see parents protecting their kids from the pain of losing. You can’t lose without getting hurt. If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t worth it – not everyone can be happy. Not everyone can be the winner.

But what’s important to remember is, there’s a difference between being The loser and being A loser. And even those, get lucky sometimes.


Little child, Medium Child, Big child
Little child, Medium Child, Man child


Author: Namzola_Goodness

A Japanese-American who grew up in the streets of New York during the racially volatile 70's, Nami blogs with guts, heart and humor. Dysfunctional parenting, cynical citizenship and...love of beer to wash it all down.

8 thoughts on “Even The Losers”

  1. Oh my god you totally nailed it. Especially the part about we win nicely but we hold onto it forever. Seriously, me. Forever. I’ve been pissed at my mom for 3 weeks and I insist she chose my nephews over her first-born but I’m totally wrong and I know it. Still holding onto it. And I will hold him from her to teach her the lesson. Of nothing she did wrong.

  2. We have a sore loser. You’re right, losing, even if it hurts like the devil, teaches us to be humble. More importantly, losing teaches us to be better prepared the next time.

    I cannot begin to tell you how often ours explodes when, things don’t go his way. They’re short lived tantrums, however. He’s improving, slowly but surely.

    As for girls being able to handle losing better than boys, you’re right. The one true female friend our son hangs with regularly is very tolerant and understanding of his mischievous ways. Even when Christopher turns the tables in his favour, cheating, if you will, whenever they play a game together, she almost never throws a fit. Now that’s a friend! Her revenge is to hug (and smooching) him in public, especially at school, in front of all is male buddies! Smart girl, isn’t she?!

    I’m constantly reminding him of how incredible lucky he is to have a friend like her and that he should be more considerate of her feelings. It appears to be working, after years of repeating the same thing over and over again.

    1. Oh, she is a smart one. I have to try that with my guys – only instead of kisses and holding hands, I’ll apply tons of Chapstick. As for Christopher, I have no doubt he’ll learn to cope like a pro. He’s got the best support.

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