Winning is Losing

Have you ever let your child win? Maybe it was a board game or a game of tag. Maybe you were playing Just Dance 2 on the Wii and you “missed” a few dance moves so your child’s score would bump up. At some point we have all done it. Perhaps to make them feel better about themselves, or “share the wealth.” And at some point, we’ve realized it was time to let them lose.

The other night I was watching an episode of Parenthood on NBC. In this episode, entitled “Sore Loser,” parents Joel and Julia are told they are coddling their seven-year old daughter, Sydney. Sydney blew up at a family gathering after messing up and losing her turn at charades. She yelled, threatened, turned over the popcorn bowl and stormed out of the room. Sydney thinks it’s her birthright to win. Joel and Julia are told that it is time for their daughter to lose. “She doesn’t need confidence, she needs humility.”

We learn about winning, and thereby losing, at a very young age. My two-year old daughter understands what it means to win. My older girls want to know who is the winner of every sports game, match or race. “Winning” became a popular catch phrase recently thanks to Charlie Sheen. apparently, he was “winning” a lot. Though most of us might have interpreted his situation as “losing.”

Some where along the way, it was decided that letting children win at everything was the best thing for them. Suddenly t-ball and softball games don’t have a winner. We’re all winners! “Fs” were taken off of report cards, because we don’t want to use the word “fail.” But, it is the best thing for them?

In his book Parenting by The Book, author John Rosemond says that a focus on self-esteem has taken over parenting during the past forty years. He says that “people with a high self-esteem possess an entitlement mentality; they believe that anything they do is worthy of merit. As a consequence, they rarely do their best at anything…People with high self-esteem have little tolerance for disappointment, frustration, failure, and criticism.” He believe we should be teaching our children the opposite. We should teach them humility.

So, the next time you pull out Candy Land or Stratego, who’s going to win?

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

Diaper Cream, A Two-Year-Old and A Pair of Shoes

When I went to get my two-year-old up from her nap today, I was greeted with a strange smell. “Hi Ella. What’s that smell?” “Ahh!!!” came from a smiling and then giggling Ella. It took about three more seconds to recognize the strong smell of diaper cream and another second to realize that Ella’s face was a bit pale. No, she wasn’t sick. It was the diaper cream. She chose to use it as facial moisturizer, hair gel and body lotion. Who knew diaper cream had so many uses?

I got down on Ella’s level to talk with her about what she had done, and then I saw them. The shoes. The nice, navy blue leather shoes, which were now white. Ella thought this to be quite creative and funny. After cleaning Ella off I sent her to her sisters and went to clean the room and open a window to release the extremely strong medicinal smell.

As I moved around Ella’s room, I realized the shoes were not the only items that had been “painted” white. Her toy shelf, a pink bunny, a picture frame, a pair of brown shoes, stacking blocks, her CD player and the book A Pocket Full of Cricket. They were all victims of Ella’s artistic expressions.

While wiping up the mess, I kept wondering “What was she thinking?!!” Perhaps it was the fumes, but I wasn’t upset. In fact, as I asked myself the same question again and again, I was smiling. I was also wondering if this is what God asks himself about his children . . . us.

We are all in need of forgiveness. Some of us, a lot! I look back at my day and ask, “How have I smeared diaper cream all over my bedroom?” What did I do, or not do that made God look down with a little smile while shaking his head.

So, while I was still smiling and wondering “What would she come up with next,” I went to open the window. I pulled back the curtain and saw them. Diaper cream handprints on the window. A work of art.

Spit-Up, Strep Throat and A Softball Game

How do you celebrate your wedding anniversaries? Shawn and I moved from Washington State to California six weeks after we were married. So, for our first anniversary, we flew to Seattle. We ate at Daniel’s Steakhouse, where we ate the night Shawn proposed. We visited our favorite spots in the city, went to worship at our old church and spent time with friends. It was romantic, sentimental and perfect.

Fast forward ten years. Today, we celebrate eleven years together. We will not be flying to Seattle or eating expensive steak. Instead, we will be helping our youngest daughter recover from strep throat, wiping up baby spit-up and going to both a t-ball and softball game. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Eleven years ago, when Shawn and I stood before our friends, many promises were made. We promised to love, comfort and keep each other. These happen in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer until our death. There was no promise for a “perfect” life, or for nights of uninterrupted sleep, or even for amazing anniversary celebrations. Our promises are bigger than that.

We have four amazing children. God has called us to be parents and that calling takes priority over our own, many times selfish, desires. So, tonight while Shawn has one daughter at t-ball and I have another at softball, I’ll smile and thank God for an amazing husband, family, and eleven years of blessings. This is life with four kids, but it’s worth it and makes me love my husband even more.