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Life Lessons (Maybe) From Candy Land

My four-year-old daughter loves the game Candy Land.

Let me say that again for emphasis: my daughter really, really loves Candy Land. As in, I’ve played so much of it in the last several weeks that recently I found myself consciously observing that Queen Frostine has a lovely complexion and I wonder what she uses on her face. It was at this point I realized that A) I’ve been playing too much Candy Land, and B) I may just generally be in need of a night out (and maybe some moisturizer).

But I am glad my girl enjoys it so much, even if the repetition occasionally gets old. This is the stuff memories are made of, right? (But as much as I’ve been playing, it’s also the stuff carpal tunnel syndrome is made of, just for the record.)

Our Candy Land sessions generally go a little something like this: Corrie asks to play, I say yes, and she sets it up. Before a single card is drawn, I ask her the same question, every time: What are you going to do if momma wins?

“I won’t have a fit!” she answers, her brown eyes widening with the feigned innocence of a child who (we both know) totally threw a fit last time.

I stack and shuffle the cards (if it’s the 3rd or 4th time we’ve played, I may quietly pull out the picture cards that send the game back to square one, and don’t even think of giving me a hard time about it, because you know you’ve done it too.) We get started, and Corrie draws a card. It’s a double yellow. Her enthusiasm is immediate and boundless. “OH MY GOSH!” she crows. “A DOUBLE YELLOW! I AM SO GOOD AT THIS GAME!”

The drama abounds as we move through the game. When she passes me, her competitive juices get flowing: “Momma, I’m gonna beat you up!” (I think she means “I’m gonna beat you”, but then again, she has big brothers, so it could go either way.)

When I pass her on the board, she musters her courage, knowing that the penalty for pouty losing is a Candy Land hiatus. “Momma, I am gonna be so happy for you if you win,” she says, perhaps a little forced, but it’s still a very good effort.

It would be tempting to choreograph the card stack so that she wins every time. That, of course, would not be doing her any favors. It’s not real life, and anyway, wins are sweeter when they only happen sometimes. I want my daughter to learn to lose graciously, and thanks to Queen Frostine and her gang, we seem to be well on our way.

Then again, when Corrie beat me yesterday, she pointed two fingers right in my face. “I WIN! YOU LOSE!” she shouted.

Did I really just get smack-talked by a four year old? It appears we need to work on winning graciously, too.

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