If There Are No Losers, No One Wins! Jun02


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If There Are No Losers, No One Wins!

Young Victoria didn’t know the rules, if indeed there were any rules.  In her six year old life winning was the only rule she lived by.  She was a born competitor.  If there must be a loser, so be it, she reasoned, as long as she was not the one losing.

Some days her parents, Frank and Ali, discussed their only child’s attitude.  It was easy to see that she was a bright girl with a very unusual ability to find a way to win whatever challenge she was given.

“But she is only six.”  Her Mother reminded her husband.  “Isn’t that a bit too young to have put such demands on herself?”

“I will agree with that, but I don’t understand what you would ask of her instead.”  Victoria’s Father wondered.  But Ali did not have a true answer to that either, she admitted,

“Being first in a race or beating all others in a game are valuable goals, however,  should it be so important?  I keep waiting for her to lose at something…anything , just to see how she handles being a loser.   If that happened now and then and she won some and lost some, and carried on the same with both, I would feel better about it” 

“Do you want me to talk to her about that and maybe learn how she feels about being a loser?”   Frank suggested as a possibility.

I have a cute little book from the library that I plan to read to her.  It’s the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.”

“I don’t see the connection.”  Frank said with an amused smile.  “It is an old story with that, “Slow and steady will win the race.”  message.  “However, he is already winning the race… all of the races.”

“That is just it.  The Hare must not have considered winning the race that important.  That is what I want her to hear in it… winning is not that important.”

Frank thought a moment.  “I’ll be surprised if she makes any decision regarding the loser.   But do read it to her.  It is a kid’s fable.  Let Victoria decide what it means. But be sure to ask!”

Her Mother read the book at bedtime and let Victoria look at all of the bright, colorful, pictures.    

Victoria heard the fable quietly and then asked,

“Don’t fable’s suppose to have a message?’’  

“Do you hear a message in it?”  Mother asked. 

“I listened for one, but it made no sense to me.”  Victoria explained. “What did I miss?”  But instead of waiting for her Mother’s answer she continued to tell her what she thought

“First the two of them had raced, so of course the Hare should win ‘cause he was a rabbit and rabbits run fast.  I’m glad I saw the pictures because I didn’t know that or that a Tortoise was a slow turtle, who should not have won the race, but he did because the rabbit did not care. Now that is the hard part.  If the rabbit did not win because he didn’t even try to win, ‘cause he’d rather just go lolly-gagging around munching carrots and stuff, then what I want to know is….”Why did he enter the race at all? 

“And the turtle ! What a silly thing it did to race someone who it could not possibly beat in a real race.  Sure he plodded forward with determination, slow but consistent.  He was racing himself!  A better race would be to find a snail or some other plodding critter, like a snake and have a real challenging race.  Then when he won he would have something to brag about.”

Mother was surprised at Victoria’s answer.  The girl was perfectly right!  Ali couldn’t wait to give Frank the sensible reply she had just heard.

But there was one more thing.  She still didn’t know how Victoria would  deal with being a loser, so she asked,

“Then how would the Tortoise feel if he now lost to a fast rabbit?  He was very proud of winning the race his way.  Slow but steady.”

“If he was going at his own top speed and another racer was doing the same, then he could be proud of himself either way.  You can be proud of winning or even losing, if you do your very best.”    

That was what Ali needed to know.  Victoria would be happy after losing.  Now she need not worry.  If Victoria was doing her best she was content with the results.  She just hoped she could remember it all to tell Frank.   

As for Victoria, she found in the story a different way to win, which was very interesting!  Now Victoria knew another totally different way to be the winner.  Just don’t let anything distract you and plod along, just in case you find yourself racing an opponent who was the type to lolly-gag.  But that could be a problem, how many of those Lolly-gaggers were out there? But she would file it away just in case.

In her studies of the children who were her playmates, most were fast and competitive, just as she was.  

One afternoon at a big fancy birthday party for a six year old cousin, Rory, Victoria noticed that five year old Kyren was actually a very laid back non-competitive girl, who seemed more interested in the lovely ribbons and beautiful wrapping papers that had been scattered about by Rory in her speed to open them to find what was inside of every interesting package.

Kyren tied some of the ribbons around her waist and others around her head, the very short but fluffy ones became bracelets, as Kyren lost interest in any game underway.  Victoria wondered to herself is quitting a game to play with the ribbons considered lolly-gagging?  While the other kids all  played Pin the Tail on the Donkey? 

The children were each given a donkey tail with sticky tape on it .to try to pin it on the large paper picture of a Donkey taped against the party room wall.

As soon as the blind fold was in place, so they could not see the Donkey anymore, the child was turned in a circle until they were confused about the direction. And left to find that unseen animal and pin their tail in the proper place on his back end.   

Arms outstretched the child walked slowly toward where they remember seeing that Donkey Poster.   There were other things in the room , so carefully and slowly, so as not to stumble and with the kids calling out “HOT or COLD “  making them turn right or left, they finally touched something and put the tail there.  

With the blind fold off and the children all laughing at the chair which now held the tail, so that child had happily lost so had moved on to look at playing with some of Rory’s new birthday gifts.

Then it was Victoria’s  turn.  She had observed that the music came from a machine on her left side of the Donkey wall and his rear was at her shoulder level,  so after the last of her dizzying turns, she faced to the right of the music and held her arm up to shoulder height and as a result marched straight up and put her tail exactly on the right spot., thus once again she won the game prize.  

“Not again!”  she heard someone say.  Even though it was meant as a disparaging remark, Victoria was pleased.

On the next game a large wooden board was stood against the Donkey’s spot on the wall.  It had a large clown head painted on it with his big red mouth wide open.  Each child was given three chances to toss a small bean bag from the line on the floor into the happy clown’s mouth.

Victoria would not need any tricks for this.  At school she was often the school baseball pitcher.  Her pitches were the most accurate, so of course, she won once again.

The next and last game was outside and now Victoria was thinking to play the Tortoise and go slow and deliberate.

This was a hunt and found game.  The children were turned loose to run about the yard and try to find the small wrapped candies that had been hidden by the parents much earlier.  They each had a small bag to put them into.   

The youngest children carried their little colorful sack in one hand as they toddled around looking in all of the low places and upon finding one, held it up to show the others with a big proud smile and perhaps even eating it, before moving along.  

Victoria  watched them all for several minutes and finally went out to hunt.

Victoria wasted no time looking in those places she had seen others has already looked, but she moved slowly to higher up places the short ones left unexplored.  And walked carefully to the neglected places where she patted under leaves and on top of the play house where she made a large collection.

Was she the winner?  Well, yes.  She had been careful not to waste time at obvious places where others had all taken turns to look before her.  The last game winning prize went to her.  All of the children got to keep what candy  they found, so they were mostly happy.

When she came home, her Mother asked if she had had fun at the party.  And the answer was she had won all the games, so was very pleased with herself.

“ What did the other kids do?”  Mother s inquired.

“Nothing.”  She admitted, “They were all just a big bunch of losers!  But she laughed, “ If there are no losers then nobody would win!  We all get turns at that now and then.”

So Victoria tried to explain how the little book had helped her. “I was the Tortoise this time.  On purpose, too!”

“How was that?”  Mother was curious.

“Well I was thinking about the story you told me where the slow turtle won the race.  So I was slow and watched everyone go fast everywhere to try to find the candy.  I very slowly, only looked at the places everyone else had not ever looked and then… I won!”

“ I see,”  Mother said thoughtfully.  “Do you ever lose ?   She asked her daughter.

“Oh lots of times.”  Victoria replied, with a wide smile. 

“Daddy used to play chess with me when I was very little, about five I think,  and I never won, because he was a better player.  But I heard Uncle Pete tell Dad that he should lose sometimes on purpose, so I can win and won’t get discouraged.  But Daddy told him he did not want to teach me to ever play to lose, so he must not do so either.  He told Uncle Pete that someday I would beat him at chess all by myself and then I would have a real accomplishment to be proud of and not wonder if I did really win or he threw it..   Anyway I always remember that when I play a game. I also play to win or would prefer to not play at all. 

But sometimes I do anyway and then when I do lose, I just forget about it!  Who wants to remember those ?  But you know what?”   She lowered her voice, as if someone else might hear her secret knowledge.   “ Some kids try to peak out of the blind fold or do other tricks to try to win.  But why do that?  If you win you know you really did not… What fun was that?”

Victoria would be just fine.  Her Mother was convinced.   It was obvious that she would never cheat to win and that was important.  Winning was her own way to test herself.  Her Father would be happy to know how he had guided her.  “If this bright little child was proud of herself, she had earned it.”