If you live long enough, I think you’ll find that life is mostly about losing. We lose friends and we lose family. We lose sight and we lose our way. We lose games and we lose love and we lose passion and we lose courage. But from that loss we find redemption. And through redemption we find grace.
This evening I was playing Frisbee 500 with my boys. The rules are simple, I call out a point value when I throw the Frisbee and whoever catches it gets the points. The first to reach 500 points wins. In my capacity as dad I do try to engineer the closest game possible and if I can, help a win where a win is needed. I’m not saying I helped my middle son win the first ever game of 500 but I sure was glad he was able to pull off the victory. Tonight I kept it pretty fair and only threw contested tosses. It came down to the wire, 400 points to the oldest and 400 points the middle. The youngest basically just ran laps back and forth and at one point he accidently hit the dog in the face with the Frisbee. The dog is ok. So anyways, the game had become pretty serious. There was probably a dozen game winning scenarios that just barely escaped the fingertips of either boy. In the end it came down to a tipped Frisbee that was secured by my oldest son.
He was ecstatic and he demonstrated his enthusiasm accordingly with dance moves that I didn’t know he was capable of. My middle son was less than enthused and decided to play the card of the sore loser.
What I learned tonight was that sometimes it’s just as important to engineer a loss as it is a victory.
“Shake your brother’s hand.” I said. He did, but reluctantly. So I marched them inside to sing the victor’s praises to their mother. I wove the tale of a great battle of athletes and how in the end, one brother just narrowly defeated the other. The middle son was still visibly sour.
So later in the evening I pulled him aside and we discussed the game. I recalled the many times that he could have caught the game winning Frisbee but didn’t. Then we talked about the moment that his older brother earned the game winning catch. Specifically though we talked about his poor sportsmanship after his brother’s victory. And then, the impossible happened. He thought about it for a moment and he said to me, “August played a good game tonight and he deserved to win.”
I was speechless so I just gave him a hug. Mostly I lose these parenting goals so It was great to pull in a win. Turns out all it took was a loss. Moving forward I may attempt to engineer more losses. That may be the only way my kids will learn how to win. Perhaps they will even find grace.