Our game of Chutes and Ladders lasted a total of three minutes before both children were in tears and I was comforting both of them while stifling laughs at the insanity of it all.
(Let me be very clear – I know Nicholas is too young to really play, but Maggie and I got the game out and he was NOT going to be left out.)
Maggie and I had a talk before we even started. If you land on a chute, you have to take the chute down. We play by the rules. We cheer on whoever wins. Blah, blah, blah.
She landed on the first chute and went down with an “aw, rats.”
When she landed on the next chute, she tried to maneuver her piece to the next spot. But we play by the rules. Then I landed on a huge ladder. And up I went.
And the tears welled up in her eyes. She didn’t throw a fit, she didn’t act out. She quietly began to cry. And wanted a hug. When she is sad, she wants me to comfort her.
Simultaneously, Nicholas grew frustrated that he couldn’t randomly move all the pieces. I can only imagine in his mind that we were randomly moving all the pieces, and he wants nothing more in life right now than to imitate his sister.
So he wailed and wanted in my lap. She whimpered and sat in my lap. I remembered why it had been so long since we played.
I pull the games out occasionally to try to thicken her skin a little. She hates to lose. Can’t deal with losing. I continue to hope that exposing her to small losses will help her deal better when the losses really matter. Not so much. At least for now.
She did rally. She did end up winning – fair and square. As soon as she passed me the first time, she taunted I’m higher than you are. I reminded her what it feels like to be behind. I asked her how she would feel if I had taunted her. She seemed to get the message and only did a small victory dance at the end of the game. I high-fived her and we put the game away. Away for as long as it takes for me to remember why we don’t play more often.