I cheat when playing games with my children.
Whew, I feel better admitting to that one. And someday, Iíll admit it to my children too.
When weíre playing Candyland, Iíll try to sneak through the deck to find the card that sends me backward.
When weíre playing UNO, Iíll keep picking up more cards when I only have one left, even if I have the right color or number to plop down and win.
When weíre playing tag, sometimes Iíll miss tapping them intentionally so they can run around.
I just want to see them win. Is that so wrong?
Our world seems to have two minds on this issue.
On one hand, some people are convinced everyone should feel like a winner. Itís a world that hands out participation trophies, accepts ties in competitive events and sometimes doesnít even keep track of score.
I donít like that vision of the world much. I am fiercely competitive. I wish there were a competition for the number of times Iíve said, ďLife is full of disappointments,Ē to my children when they complain about something. I know Iíd win, and I like to win.
Other people in the world have a win-at-all-costs mentality. Theyíre the ones who say shortcuts and cheating are OK, as long as the result gets you closer to your goals.
These people also drive me nuts. Half the joy of winning a game is knowing you played it by its rules.
So what turned me into a cheater, lying to my children on a routine basis? To use a gambling term, the house always wins in the end, and thatís not fair either.
Most games worth playing benefit the stronger or smarter competitor. Some day, my children and I will be on the same level, but for now theyíre still learning the rules. As they grow, the parent in me wants to give them every advantage I can to help them succeed.
Sometimes that means helping me fail. By this point in my life, Iíve won my share of games of Candyland, UNO and tag. I donít mind letting children experience victory once in a while.
Yes, I want to teach them to be a good loser. We reinforce how you should act, win or lose, in any competitive endeavor. We remind them tantrums arenít appropriate after a loss.
Many people need just as much guidance after a win, though. You canít teach a child how awful gloating is until she has a chance to win and feels that overwhelming urge to rub it in her competitionís face.
Itís all part of the quest to teach children how to be balanced adults. Weíve all met enough people who obviously didnít learn these lessons, and you never want your children to become that person.
I will continue to cheat when playing games with my children, up until the day they can beat me honestly. By that point, I should have enough practice losing to be handle that real defeat gracefully.