Within the sports mystery, Something’s Missing, three children unite to solve a mystery, but in addition, each one has a problem to solve. This is Jaylon’s problem:
A Snippet from Chapter Three:
Jaylon hated to lose. He hated losing at checkers; he hated losing at cards; he hated losing at snakes and ladders; and, most of all, he hated losing at hockey. Last year, his hockey team, the Warriors, won most of its games and Jaylon’s dad jokingly referred to the team as the “Winningest Warriors.” This year, things were different. Jaylon’s new team, the Vikings, had lost all but a couple of games and he was really getting sick of it. Tonight had been no different than usual – another loss. And this time, it was worse than usual. They had just lost the first game of the week-long tournament against their biggest rivals, the Pirates. If they didn’t win the next game, they would be out of the tournament altogether.
Jaylon, hot and tired after the game, climbed into the back seat of the family van and fastened his seatbelt. Dad was still talking to Mr. Fenner, the father of one of the other players on the team. The men were finished stowing their sons’ hockey bags in the trunks of their vans, parked side by side in the arena parking lot, and Jaylon wished they stop talking so they could go. He wanted to get home and find something to do to take his mind off another horrible game. Maybe Mom would let him play a game on her computer for awhile. He liked playing computer games by himself. If he lost, no one knew but him, and he could delete the game and start over again.
Looking out the window, he saw Davis Fenner, a nine-year-old who played on his line, grinning at something he was holding in the backseat of the van beside him, most likely a book. Davis couldn’t see him because the tinted windows of the new family van hid him from sight and Jaylon was happy he didn’t have to smile or wave. That goofball had probably never been on a winning team and didn’t care that they had lost another game tonight and that they were a bunch of losers. Why did they have to have nine-year-olds on the team anyway?
A van pulled up beside them and he watched Chris, who played hockey the next level up with the eleven and twelve year-olds and went to the same school as Jaylon, laughing his head off as the door opened. It must have been a good joke. Chris was tall and wiry, with very short, dark hair, and a friendly look about him. When he moved to the back of the van, he pulled out a hockey bag, waved to two little girls strapped into their car seats and the woman driver, probably his mom. Jaylon knew the older boy from his school was a really good player on a winning team and he raised his hand ready to wave in case Chris noticed him, and then he remembered the tinted windows, lowered his hand, and slumped back in his seat as Chris walked towards the arena. Why would Chris want to wave to a loser like him anyway?
Winning is More Fun than Losing
Many children have difficulty in dealing with losing a competition with dignity. The problem for parents is fostering the spirit of trying hard to win tempered with acceptance of loss. It’s not an easy concept to teach, particularly as many adults – parents, teachers, and coaches – don’t seem to have grasped the niceties themselves. It’s a thin line.
However, the good news is that the lesson here is worth teaching and learning and the experiences that reinforce this learning are applicable throughout life:
- winning is important and it’s fun and rewarding
- losing is not fun but it, too, is rewarding in that it is part of the learning process and aids in the mastery of any skill
It’s Important to Accept Some Losses as Part of the Game
It is by example and encouragement that children learn how to deal with the disappointment of losing a competition. To put it bluntly, no one likes a sore loser no matter what causes the loss. Everybody loses some of time – at sports, in the classroom, and socially – and everyone has to learn to hide the disappointment and congratulate the winners.
Sometimes the child or the team loses to a stronger competitor – the “best” wins. However, the message in the expression “may the best man win” (formulated in the days when only males, not females, competed) applies to both sexes and is timeless. Quite often, the best does not win – the best loses because of bad luck or to someone who had good luck, or who tried harder or who never gave up.
It doesn’t matter what the reason is – you lost. What comes next? All of this:
- Suck it up and carry on
- Try again
- Try harder next time
- Spend more time practicing
- Better luck next time
- Congratulate the winners
It’s important for children to understand that they are not alone in finding it difficult to accept losing. It takes a bit of experience to put those feelings of disappointment into perspective, and reading about other children struggling with the same problem can help.
Something’s Missing is for sale in paperback at this link to Amazon.com, or by clicking on this Amazon.ca link, and at Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores. If your child enjoys e-book reading, watch for the Kindle version, coming soon.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Maureen Grenier and a clickable link back to this page.