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Playing With Gemma

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Gemma did not like me when she was a baby. Her lip would quiver when I looked at her, and she would start crying as soon as I picked her up. It took a lot of effort on my part to get her to bond with me.

Eventually we bonded, and now I am one of her favorite people to play with!

The reason she loves playing with me boils down to two elements that are important to her: she makes up all the rules, and she always wins.

If we play tag, for example, I am "it" if she tags me, but, when I tag her, she is "it" only if she feels like chasing me. Otherwise, I broke the rules.

When we play Pop the Pig, the person on whom the pig pops is the winner if it pops on her; if it pops on me, then the person it pops on loses.

Candace says she is overly competitive. I am not so certain about that. Her Auntie Erin is competitive. Erin does her best, and goes up against other people who do their best. The winner is the person whose best is better.

Gemma would be best described as a sore loser, albeit a beautiful, curly blonde haired sore loser. She is also not a gracious winner!

Recently, Gemma, Candace, Elliana, and I played a game of Trouble. Gemma had no problem with being set back to start, or playing by the real rules of the game. It was impressive that she seemed to be accepting the rules of game - right up until Elliana won. She immediately threw herself on the ground and began crying.

When I pointed out to Candace that she and I lost, but, because Elliana and Gemma were playing against us as a team, they won the game, she stopped crying in a nano-second, and taunted her mom and me that we lost and she won!

We are all hoping that she will outgrow the need to win just as she outgrew hating me when she was a baby. We have some hope, too. She is more willing these days to accept that not every birthday party is for her, that we must take turns when we play, and that it feels good when we help people and animals.

However, we are not fully there yet. We have made some progress, though.

It is okay for me to lead in a race provided I fake a hamstring injury so she finishes first. It is okay for me to find her when playing hide and seek provided I let her beat me to the base. It is okay for me to evade her when she is "it" in tag provided the game does not end without her tagging me.

This is all okay with me. Learning is different for each person, and it is best done in progressive steps. The next step will likely be two-out-of-three, through which she will be able to lose and still win. We will see.

It is also important for me to recognize that even though she lags a bit in the concept of fair play, she is quite advanced in identifying shapes, blending colors with paint and crayons to make new colors, and mathematical and physical concepts.

She is a smart young lady, and I have the rest of my life to help her grow and to learn from her how to do that.

Some other things I've written about: 

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