Today The Noodle and I were playing Jenga while Jeff and The Muffin napped (we had a gig last night, and I got to sleep in, so this means Jeff gets the second sleep shift). Jenga, (for the uninitiated), is that game where you take a piece from a tower of wooden blocks & place it on top. The person who makes the tower fall loses the game. The way I play – the way I’m trying to teach The Noodle to play – is to focus on teamwork and building structure. As a team, we win if we can make a tower that is taller than we (or other players) have made before.
I think the concept of “winner” and “loser” is deeply ingrained in the human psyche, though, (despite all my best efforts), and never is this more clear than a game with a 4 year old. Together, we made a tower that was 26 stories high. (Pretty impressive, I thought.) As we were cleaning up, the Noodle says to me: “You made the tower fall.”
Me: “Yup, I sure did – we made a pretty tall tower, though, huh?”
Noodle: ” Yeah. But you made it fall, so you losed.”
Me: “‘Lost.’ I guess this means that -”
Noodle: “I WINNED!”
Me: “‘Won.’ You, “won”, yes, but the more important thing is that together we made a taller tower than we made before.”
Noodle: “Mom, you’re fired.”
Me: “What?! Why? I lost, so I’m fired?”
Me: “So what would happen if you lost? Would I get to fire you?”
Noodle: “Yeah. But no, because I don’t want to ever lose.”
Me: “Everybody loses sometimes.”
Noodle: “No. I don’t want to ever lose.”
Me: “Want to play again?”
Noodle: “No. I don’t want to get fired.”
And there you have it.