It's taking the time to play the game that makes us all winners.
Like many parents, I often struggle to find my inner child, and the desire to play that comes with it. When home with Sugar Bear, we sometimes find ourselves going a bit stir crazy. She misses her playmates at preschool, and I simply can not "play" all day. There are times when I really wish I could. I try...and try...but usually within 20 minutes, I am bored to tears. I find this particularly the case with imaginative play. It is like my "play brains" fell out somewhere along the way, and I am left clueless.
To combat this feeling of inadequacy, I often purchase some sort of GAME for Sugar when gift time comes around. I have found that games are the EXCEPTION, when it comes to play. I can easily play some sort of game with Sugar Bear for as long as her little heart desires. It isn't entirely painless, but I do think it is well worth it.
For her Birthday, I purchased this fun game called, Zingo. There were some pretty great deals on games during the holiday season. I actually stocked up. There are some pretty SWEET games waiting for Sugar to mature a little. woo hoo!!
This game is FUN! Sugar loves the cool plastic dispenser, and I love seeing her joy. She always has the distinguished honor of sliding the dispenser forward and then back to reveal the next two pictures.
The idea is for all players to watch carefully, and call out when they see a picture they need. The first one to call out the picture gets it. There is a penalty of some sort if you call out something you don't need, but I can't recall what it is, as it hasn't been an issue for us, yet. In fact, Sugar likes to call out the things I need as well, "OOOOO mama you need the house!" It is pretty cute. In an effort to maintain a nice level of happiness for all players, I have to find a nice balance of winning and losing. Let's face it...it is hard for a 4 year old to handle losing.....
But it certainly wouldn't do her any good, if I ALWAYS let her win. I have heard great discussions regarding whether a parent should let a child win or not, and have formed my own opinions on the matter. I feel that it is part of parenting to teach a child how to enjoy the game regardless of who wins or loses, and this can't be done by beating the pants off them EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. And let's face it....I could totally TAKE her if I wanted to. Tee Hee.
Instead, throughout the process of the game, we talk about how much fun we are having, ("I'm so happy to be playing this game with you!" and labeling the feelings we have along the way ("Oh man.....I keep forgetting what pictures I need. That's frustrating!". When I lose, I try to model an appropriate losing behavior ("WOW! You sure did a great job calling out those pictures quickly! Maybe I'll win next time."), and when I win, I take the effort to model good sportsmanship ("Good game, Sugar! Let's play again. I love playing games with you!").
Over time, I have seen Sugar Bear grow in her abilities to handle the emotions that go along with playing games. I like to think that along with entertaining ourselves, we are making an emotional connection, and learning about life.
It doesn't matter who wins of loses......it's being blessed enough to play together.