Growing up, nearly everyday after school my father would take me out to the back porch and proceed to beat me. He got so good at it, sometimes he would take a paddle in each hand and alternate one after another. I lost count of how many times he beat me. I was powerless to stop him, he was bigger, stronger and faster. Then one day the unthinkable happened. One day I beat him. Things were forever changed.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about ping-pong. My dad played ping pong growing up and I was just learning. We played almost everyday and he would win every game, every time. He was a good teacher and sometimes we would just work on our skills together, but when it came down to keeping score for real, he wouldn’t take it easy on me. I wanted to win so badly. He refused to let me.
Finally after what must have been over 100 games I finally beat him. That was a great day. I earned that win. I deserved it. I was proud. I lost the next 30 or so games until I finally won one again. Then slowly it got to where we were evenly matched. It was anyone’s game at that point. That’s when it really got fun. Those are some great childhood memories of my dad and me at the ping pong table.
In addition to not letting me win at ping pong my dad wouldn’t let me win at anything. He was a great coach and teacher and would do his best to help you get better and improve. But, he wasn’t going to take it easy on you and he certainly wasn’t going to let you win. If you wanted to beat him you were going to have to earn it. That made winning more fun.
There were a lot of great lessons to be learned from all of those beatings. You have more pride in something you had to earn versus something that was just given to you. Sometimes you have some failures on your way to getting your first big win. I also witnessed how to beat someone over 100 times in a row and still be a good sport about it.
I see many parents taking it easy on their kids. I understand the desire to want your child to succeed and have a positive attitude about themselves. But I disagree that giving them a win will accomplish that. Teach your child, coach your child, train your child but don’t cheapen their victory by taking it easy. How much more will they value that win when they truly earned it!
I have followed in my dad’s footsteps and I refuse to let my children beat me at anything. If they beat me, they will have earned it, I’m not going to give it away. Maybe somewhere along the way they can learn the importance of hard work, dedication, practice, sportsmanship and perseverance.