Winners and Losers


Winners and losers, isn’t that always the outcome of a game? So what do you do if the game isn’t going your way? Actually, if the game isn’t going your way, there are several possible courses of action. Take for example the blood-curdling scream coming from the sun-porch…


Pardon the interruption. The aforementioned paragraph is as far as I got before Jake, my seven-year-old grandson, invited himself to come to my rescue. At least that was his intent. He looked at what I had written and then asked if he could finish writing my blog for me? Without waiting for an answer, he climbed in my lap and took over the keyboard. Turning to me, he asked: “Granddad, Is it okay for me to write this like it was you doing the writing?” I was impressed by his question. That is a pretty sophisticated concept for a seven year old. Actually, I need to modify that. Today is Jake’s birthday. He is now eight years old. I still think it is a pretty complex concept.


Last weekend when I was having coffee with a friend, he asked if I had read any of Wallace Stegner’s books? I was not familiar with his writings. He said, “Crossing To Safety” and “All the Little Live Things” are a good read. I think you’d like both books.” Apparently Stegner was fairly adept at going back in time and then presenting the story of another as though he was delivering it in first person.   With a deep resonating voice, I said to Jake: “Go for it kid! This is your story anyway. I was going to write about you, your brother and your sister. So write my blog for me anyway you want to see your story played out”.


Truthfully, don’t we all have that same ability? I come across folks all the time that are content being discontent with a miserable existence. The same is probably true of you. The next time you’re in a restaurant having lunch alone, pay attention to the conversation the people at the next table are sharing. Most folks don’t spend a lot of time talking about life and how good it is. They are more adept at focusing on negatives and highlighting what is wrong with life rather than what is going well.   If we don’t like the story in which we find ourselves, why not change the dynamics and chart a different course for ourselves?


Looking again at what I had written, Jake picked up where I left off. I had gotten as far as: “Take for example the blood curdling scream coming from the sun porch…” Without missing a beat, Jake added: “It was my little grandson. His sister had landed on Boardwalk while they were playing Monopoly. Boardwalk had four houses on it and the rent cost more money that she had. We could all see that, but she insisted on counting it out anyway. She was so slow and it was like torture watching her count the money knowing she didn’t have enough. The next thing, she’s calling the game over. It wasn’t over. I was still in the game but she wanted to start a new game.”


The concept of a new game took Jake from my computer to the domino table. Actually, what he added to the story fits with what I had in mind. I heard the blood-curdling scream coming from the sun porch and thought someone should ensure that no one was getting hurt. Actually, there was no real damage done. Jake was miffed that his sister wanted to start a new game. Just because she was financially defunct, didn’t mean that he wouldn’t eventually win, but now that his sister was clearing the Monopoly board and stacking everyone’s money, he’d never know. On the other hand, the older brother had already loaned him some Monopoly money to pay off his rent. He probably would have done the same thing for his sister, but she was clearing the board and insisting it was time to start a new game.


Winners and losers, isn’t that always the outcome of a game? I suspect how kids learn to manage both winning and losing will have a long-term impact on how they negotiate life. After all, you can’t always be at the top of the leaderboard. Sometimes losing with grace or not letting the loss define your self-esteem is the key to the next win or the next accomplishment.


Actually, what I had in mind for my blog was to talk about the emerging personalities and skill sets I see in my grandchildren. All three are different and all three will probably serve them well in life, but they are three very different personalities. Isn’t it true that the aptitudes and innate abilities that simply surface in one’s life eventually define the making of a man?


Jenna has a lot in common with the General. She naturally assumes that because she’s the oldest child in the family that she’s ultimately the one in charge. Her younger brothers don’t necessarily always agree, but their momentary disagreement isn’t enough to dissuade her from the perception that she’s really the one in charge. Besides that she’s smart and she’s pretty. Isn’t that a winning combination? She is developing a sense of self-confidence that if you want it done right, she has the wherewithal to deliver. Yep, she is the General made over.


William on the other hand, is more the silent type with a dry sense of humor and the ability to do numbers in his head. He also is extremely kind. He doesn’t need for anyone to think he is the person in charge. He intuitively knows who he is and is confident that at the end of the day, he will have everything he needs to be successful. Whether he is playing Monopoly or negotiating adding to his stash of real cash, he’d rather have a dollar than what it can buy and he is content to save his money rather than spend it. Of course, he’s been known to outsource some of his assigned chores by paying his brother or sister a dollar or two to do something he’s been asked to do. After all, the people with the money control the world. I suspect he’ll fall in the “banker, lawyer, Indian Chief” category one day.  He knows how to make his money work for him.


William’s Christmas list this year was fairly simply. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he told everyone he wanted money. Folks took him at his word and he couldn’t have been more pleased. Of course, his gifts of money were laced in with a large bag of M&Ms or a couple of boxes of Whoppers. I guess he has a sweet tooth as well as a propensity for wealth.


Jake is a “let the good times roll” kind of kid who enjoys life. For him, it is all about the adventure. He also has the ability to express himself in a way that gets your attention. He was the source of the blood-curdling scream when he perceived the older sister was prematurely closing out the Monopoly game. Jake has the vocabulary of a tenth grader and the ability to express himself both verbally and in writing. He is a funny kid and he’s never met a stranger. He is looking for the next laugh and I guarantee you he’ll find it.


Winners and losers, the way I see it, there isn’t a loser in the lot. Of course, I have the advantage of being the granddad whose life is blessed immeasurably by their presence.


All My Best!



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