As hard as I try, nine times out of ten, my son beats me in Star Wars Guess Who? It’s freaky. Once, he guessed straight out that I had Obi-wan. The boy is incredible.

My son loves to win. And I try really hard to beat him, not to be mean but because he’s not always going to win out there. And I do like winning too. I mean if you can’t beat a five year old, who are you going to beat?

So, the other day we set up the humble Snakes and Ladders game. We sat down and after a few unfortunate snake incidents for my son, and a few lucky ladders for myself, I was declared the winner! Hip hip hooray for me! However, my opponent was not so happy. The bottom lip flapped to the ground, the eyes followed the droop of the lip and between clenched teeth he said, ” you can win all the time”. Sigh.

He then ran to his room, flung himself on his bed and screamed. Not a happy camper. When the calm finally came, I sat with him in our ‘chat spot’, looking out the window. How to explain losing to a five year old? I spoke about bad sportsmanship, about how my sporting team ALWAYS loses and we simply shake hands with the other team, “good game”, said sometimes through my own clenched teeth. I advised him to play games purely for the pleasure of it, for fun. Then I left him with the threat that I’d sit him down and read Oh the places you’ll go to him. Dr. Seuss at his best. Here’s a taste of what would be on offer:

“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.”

I love that our generation is a positive one. We tell our kids to reach for the stars. They can do anything cos they’re completely awesome! It’s a very encouraging perspective. But, for me, I want my kids to be happy to fail, to lose and be kind about it. To instill a genuine contentment when they lose would be so valuable. I don’t think I’ve done a top notch job in this department as yet, but I will keep chipping away at it.

And one sunny day, with birds chirping and rabbits scurrying, I’ll sit down in my charming garden with my son, dice in hand, tears brimming in our eyes simultaneously, peace thick in the air, ready to attack Snakes and Ladders with passion, energy and joy, despite the fact that I will kick his butt!