Asher and I play a lot of games. Memory games. Board games. Guessing games. But he especially loves card games. War. Go Fish. Old Maid. Solitaire. Growing up I always had a gift when it came to games of chance. I won. That was my gift. As long as there was a spinner or a guesser or something to keep it from being strategic, I would win. And it drove my older brother crazy. (I bet it still does.)
Asher has inherited my gift. And now it’s my turn to be driven crazy. Chutes & Ladders? He will get the huge ladder EVERY single time. Candyland? He’s the one that draws the Princess Frostine card and heads straight to the top. Memory? Not only does he have the memory of a newly-turned-6-year-old which is uncanny, but he’ll randomly pick two cards and they’ll match! I lose a lot to my son, and trust me, with Ash, I play no holds barred. Yes, I am an awful mother. I do not let my child win at games. I remind him all the time to play like a gentleman. I want him to learn to win and lose graciously. I still need to learn that lesson, too.
We bought Asher UNO for his birthday. One hand to teach him how to play, and then he was winning left and right. Tonight he beat me four hands in a row. After the final hand, Asher looked at me, cocked his head and grinned, “Mom, I like winning.” he said. There was no arrogance. Just honesty with a hint of cockiness. Something ugly rose within me, “Yes, I know you do.” I sighed. He grinned again, “I think it’s my new favorite thing.” I sputtered. All kinds of the “right” things to say flitted through my mind. Things like: It’s not about the winning, it’s about how you play the game. Everyone is a winner when they try. You only lose when you have a bad attitude, and sometimes that means the winners are losers.
The predominant thought in my brain was how someone needs to take my son down a notch. Then came the moment when the world stops and you see your son with different eyes. In fact, I didn’t see my son at all. I saw myself and it wasn’t pretty. The truth is, I like to win. It’s one of my favorite things. In my arguments with Brian, I am determined to win. When I am face to face with a strong-willed child, I am determined to win. This battle with cancer I am determined to win. I even look at friendships as projects to win sometimes. My sin. I am going to win there, too. See the pattern? See what’s missing? Or rather, see what’s there? Me. All me. It’s all about me. Someone needs to take me down a notch.
Yes, I am a competitive person. Always have been. Always will be. But there’s a difference between a competitor and someone who has to win all the time. The competitor has a life to live on the way. The person who has to win all the time only has one reason for living, themselves. A competitor realizes the need for others to help them train and compete and learn and lose sometimes. The person who has to win all the time has to do it on their own. And they may win, but they’re really lonely when they get to the top.
I pray that I will win against this cancer. But I’ve needed God, Brian, my family and friends to help me in the fight. I pray that I will win in my marriage. Not win against Brian, but win with him because we are a team. I pray that I will win battles with my children, not to break their will but to mold their will to God’s. I pray that I will win in my friendships, not so that I will be loved, but so that I can love. I pray that I will win against Satan and sin in this life, not so I can say what a good Christian I am, but so that others see Christ and His beauty.
It is a scary thing sometimes to see yourself in your child. But it is also an amazing thing. And one of the most amazing things is how I learn from them every day. And, well, learning from my children, that’s a whole lot better than winning!