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Did I pin my daughter between my vice grip thighs so I could win the next level of Angry Birds?
Yes. I did it, okay? I’m not proud of it.
I don’t like to lose. Even at things I really don’t care about. If I was at a family reunion and asked to play badminton, I would make sure I wasn’t on the team with my “not quite known for her love of sport” cousin, Rhonda. Or any of the aunts who just run and scream a lot. If we’re gonna play this thing, we’re gonna play this thing and Uncle Bub better show up.
I remember playing Word with Friends with Rob and I actually called him on his work phone because he wasn’t responding to any of my demanding texts that he hurry up and play me back. He said something about “sucking the fun right out of it” and I said something like, “pissed you’re losing” and then I think he blocked me. Whatever.
So when my toddler asked me to play Angry Birds with her, I reluctantly agreed. What does “with her” mean, technically? It’s a game I let her play every once in awhile on my phone if I’m desperate to eat without having to share, read clickbait slideshows about random Gary Coleman facts, or inspect my pores an inch from the mirror without being harassed.
So, I start playing and to my delight, I start winning. But she thinks I’m not playing it right so she starts yelling like a softball mom, telling me I need to fling the bird up higher and she gets her sticky little cracker crumb fingers all over the screen and I’m like, “Lucy, do you want me to help you win or not? Get your fingers off the screen!” So both of us are just frantically poking and swiping and our birds are just dropping to the ground left and right and I’m about to lose. So instinctively I simply did what had to be done. I pinned her between my thighs so that she couldn’t reach the screen. So she starts crying and I’m like “Hold on baby, I’m about to win!” and then I do win and through her sobs she says, “Good job, mommy!” and that was sort of hilarious and sort of sad, so we played together the next few rounds, quite badly, and in the end, I’m pretty sure she blocked me.
If you can imagine how I feel about losing stupid things, like game apps, then you can probably guess that I don’t take the big losses in my life very well at all.
And I’ve had a lot.
When you lose at something that’s wrapped up in your gifts and dreams, hopes and heart, it cuts to the quick of your identity. And you can’t blame your cousin Rhonda.
I recently had a string of professional rejections and it felt like dodgeballs to the boob. Just one boob, but lots of balls. Over and over.
I wanted to give up, so bad.
But there’s a truth that I always held on to, that helps dry my tears and solidify my resolve – and that is – there’s a lesson in the losing – and it’s really the only roadmap to winning.
It’s corny. It’s cliche. But few of us really believe it, otherwise we’d stop quitting so easy.
Maybe one day, I’ll have the courage to love losing knowing how it’s preparing me, perfectly, for winning the big dream.
Or maybe not.
In the meantime, I’ll just keep playing Lucy, but I think she blocked me. Whatever.