A no-win situation

“I fucking hate West Coast!”
Learner Dad and I looked at each other.
Actually I glared at him.
No, no, he wasn’t the one who said it.
The words had come soaring out of Master Seven’s mouth, after he lost a game of AFL Live to his dad on the Playstation.
No excuses, that language is not allowed in our house and he got into trouble.
But Learner Dad is, now please pardon MY language, a massive shit stirrer.
Pre-Learner Dad, the little Master and I would play many a board or ball game.
If he won (which, back then, was usually only when I let him), I’d shrug and congratulate him.
Even now, I take losing on Mario Kart (which I don’t do deliberately) with good grace.
So, led by example, he’s always been a pretty good sport.
Now, when he and Learner Dad began bonding over the Playstation, Master Seven rarely won.
This created an opportunity for Learner Dad to quickly rack up some worship points.
He was winning and Master Seven was not only a good sport about it, he was in awe of his new father’s abilities.
But eventually the tables turned.
Master Seven started winning.
I’d hear mutterings of ‘shit-vers’ or ‘bloody oath’ as Learner Dad threw his remote aside or slammed it on the floor.
He’d turn the TV off before the Collingwood victory song kicked in and go to work, leaving a confused Master Seven wondering what all the fuss was about.
Months later, there was another game change.
Learner Dad began winning again.
And while his attitude to losing left a lot to be desired, his attitude to winning was worse, a cue for constant ‘yesssss’-ing and laps around the loungeroom as a forlorn little Master watched on.
Only this time he’d finally had enough, blurting out: “I fucking hate West Coast!”
After reprimanding him, I told Master Seven to go make his bed.
Learner Dad loudly stifled a chuckle.
Was he serious?
Was this guy really almost 30?
He looked at me, knowing he’d gone too far.
“I thought I was marrying a man, not adopting another child!” I said, exasperated.
And yet, I wasn’t going to ask Learner Dad to change his behaviour.
Because my boys will come across sore losers and arrogant winners constantly in life.
Learning to ignore them is what will make them strong young men.
Recently, playing Checkers, Master Seven made a terrible move.
“Wait,” came a small voice as he realised his mistake.
But he’d taken his hand off the piece and Learner Dad was allowing no second chances, quickly triple jumping the despondent seven-year-old.
As a result, the game eventually came down to Learner Dad’s six kings versus Master Seven’s two.
But bit by bit, piece by piece, Master Seven cleaned his father up.
And believe me, the “good effort Brenno” he politely offered up at the end of the game, those three genuinely expressed sympathetic words, rubbed more salt into the gaping wound in Learner Dad’s pride than any arrogant taunt could have.
That’s my boy!

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