She Says… A Sore Loser

First things first, thank you so much to all who commented, tweeted and emailed me happy thoughts for my surgery yesterday. It went very smoothly. The doctors and nurses were all wonderful. Prior to the surgery I was joking with the anesthesiologist about putting me under before I even went in the operating room so I could just get this over with. Apparently she did, because once we got in there (so I thought), I felt people touching my legs and I said, “I can still feel that” (you know, trying to be helpful) and they smiled at me and said, “That’s good! We’re done!”. So the actual procedure was easy. I felt exhausted and crampy all day yesterday, and today my whole body feels achy like I have the flu, but I’m expecting to feel much better very soon.

Onto happier topics. Like my kid being THE WORST at losing. Losing anything, really, but as we’ve recently entered the wide world of board games, we’re learning the “how to lose” lesson over and over and over again. Apparently he needs a LOT of practice with this life skill.


Let’s back up. For Owen’s 3rd birthday he got a game called Zingo. If you have a 3-4 year old and haven’t played this, you are missing out. It is SO FUN and occupies Owen for 30+ minutes. Maybe it’s the fact that Owen is a little police officer for rules, and he likes knowing what is and isn’t allowed in the game. Or maybe it’s the fact that he gets 30+ minutes of undivided attention since we’re so engaged when we play it. Or maybe it’s just that it’s new and he got it for his birthday. Whatever it is, it’s kind of magic. I can even play it while nursing Emmett.

The first time Owen and I played, I won. To be honest I didn’t even think about letting Owen win, because I know what an important skill it is to be a good loser. That said, I was not prepared for his melodramatic response.


First, he screamed at the top of his lungs. A piercing, high-pitched squeal. Then he stood up and threw his Zingo board and all of the little pieces all over the living room. Then he shouted, “I’m NEVER playing this game again. NEVERRRRR!”. His fists were clenched and tears streamed down his cheeks. He sobbed body-heaving sobs.

I did my best to stifle the laughter I felt bubbling up. This was clearly very serious to him and I was trying to honor his emotions, but, seriously? I’d never seen an outburst like this before. How did he even really know what “winning” meant? Once he had let off some steam we had a discussion about what to do when someone wins (say, “Congratulations!”) and how he might win the next one. We also made a new house rule that the winner has to clean up the game.


That was weeks ago, and since then he has gotten much better. But still, Benjamin and I cringe when one of us wins, waiting to see what Owen’s reaction will be. Sometimes it’s incredibly mature and calm (“Congratulations! Let’s play again.”) and other times it’s flat out Charlie Sheen-esque. Benjamin is much more apt to let Owen win to avoid the drama, but I am a mean mom and force him to practice, practice, practice his losing skillz.

We’re working on it.

Since Owen took to this board game like a Kardashian to fake eyelashes, we decided to pick up another one a few days ago. And this one eliminated the need for battening down the hatches when someone other than Owen won. Count Your Chickens is a cooperative game, so everyone works together and wins or loses as a team. A little hokey? Yes. Avoiding teaching how to win/lost nicely? Absolutely. But does it give us an equal amount of focused playing time without the tantrum at the end? Hell yeah. So it’s a new family fave.

Unfortunately all of this “winning” and “losing” talk has extended beyond the board games. Now at the dinner table Owen will ask me, “Mommy, why are you eating so quickly? I want to win!”, despite my insistence that the point of dinner is not to “win”. Sigh. Perhaps that’s a lesson for another day. On the upside, we have a new tactic for getting him upstairs for teeth brushing in the evening. All Benjamin has to do is dash out of the room and say, “I’m going to beat you up the stairs! I’m gonna win!”.

Win or lose, I’m excited to have moved into the next phase of toys and playtime with Owen, that of rules and games.


8 responses to “She Says… A Sore Loser

  1. Angie All The Way

    Very happy to hear that you got along well with your surgery. I’ve been under before and remember how it feels like a split second!

    We have a memory game that Cameron loves (you know the ones where you flip the cards over and try to find matching pairs). He was very excited to teach Grampie how to play on his last visit. Now this was an interesting scene to watch from afar. Dad took some time to let Cameron collect some matching pairs, got some himself and then apparently Cameron had his eye on one particular card and he knew where the match was and when Dad scooped it up we had our own little scene in our living room too – “NOOOOOOOOO, I WANTED TO GET THAT ONE! WHAAA!” Definitely a teaching moment about playing fair. It was a lesson he had to learn that he had to play “fair” and Grampie got it fair and square. I appreciated though, that Dad was doing a little bit of both letting Cameron win some pairs and got some of his own too. It let him feel like he “could” win, but he might not too. He’s coming to visit again this weekend, so we’ll see how it goes this time!

  2. Be a mean Mommy. Letting him always have his way is the best way to raise an adult unprepared for the real world, but somehow, I think you already get that. 🙂

    I find, the trick with ultra-competitive kids is to use it to your advantage. Eating vegetables, and tidying up are my two faves. Their prize is a high five and a “great job!”

    Don’t worry. You’re doing awesome.

  3. I am happy to hear that your surgery went well. On a totally different note, I love the rug in your first picture. Do you mind sharing where you got it?

  4. Ha! A post containing Charlie Sheen and “winning”.

  5. Ah yes. “It’s not a race!” is one of the most commonly heard phrases in my house. The sore loser phase does last a long time; my 4-year-old still cries if he doesn’t win. However, my 6-year-old is in the stage where he gloats obnoxiously if he wins anything, so I like your “winner cleans up” rule.

    Glad your surgery went well!

  6. Oops – I deleted alll my cookies the other day so it made the above comment show up as “anonymous” – but it was me. 🙂

  7. @Shannon, Thank you! That rug is from

  8. Eli is funny when it comes to anything competitive… he loves to win, of course, but he loves for YOU to win, too. He’ll win a race, and then insist that YOU win the next one. I’m not sure where he got this from, because we are like you… a tough love, we play by the rules and the winner wins kind of family. Trying to explain to him that although it is very nice that he likes to be fair and let everyone have their turn at winning, it’s not great practice to let people win when they didn’t deserve it? Errr.

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