Tug of War


Last fall I blogged about my boys (who are in Young-5’s) playing soccer against the kindergarteners at recess. They never won. Not even once.

Then I heard a few stories of the kindergarteners puffing themselves up. Trying to lord over the Young-5’s.

“They won’t let me on the monkey bars,” my son Mr. A said. “They block the way.”

“What do you do when that happens?” I asked.

“I go around to the other side.”

“Sounds like a good solution. Or you could always tell the teacher if they get really mean.” (I’m a firm believer in them solving problems like these…it empowers them when I don’t hover too closely…ahem.)

I didn’t hear too much else about the kindergarteners/young-5’s rivalry. Not until spring came, at least.

“We’re playing soccer against the big kids again,” Mr. A said.

“Not me,” Mr. T added. “They don’t play basketball, so I’m doing that now.”

“The big kids are still beating us.” Mr. A shook his head. “We’ll get them some day.”

Then I went on about how important it is to have good sportsmanship regardless if you win or lose. Then my daughter went on about how it’s important to have good sports-woman-ship, too. Then I explained that, throughout time, we’ve referred to the human race as “man”. She took exception to this, which is fine by me.

I gave them pudding. All was well.

A few days later, we were at the store. Mr. A spotted a kindergartener from his school coming out of the bathroom.

“That’s one of the big kids,” he whispered.

“Do you want to go say ‘hi’?” I asked.


With all the resolve an almost-six-year-old can muster, my son walked to the bigger boy.

“You’re one of the young-5’s, aren’t you?” the kindergartener scowled. I’m not kidding. He scowled at my baby boy.

Somebody hold me back.

“Yeah.” Mr. A didn’t cower. “Hi.”

The big boy leered at him.

His mother came around the corner. “Oh!” she said in a very happy, sweet, cheerful voice. “Is this one of your friends from school?”

“He’s a young-5.” The boy didn’t break his glare.

He started looking bigger and bigger to me every second.

“Why are you looking at him like that?” the mother asked. “Why do you look so…so…severe?”

I knew, right then, that this rivalry was serious. The mama bear in me had to calm down.

This. Was. Serious.

Field day came. You know field day, right? At most schools these days, everybody’s a winner. Not so for our school. There are winners and losers and icy pops. So. Many. Icy pops.

Kids need to learn how to lose well. In my opinion, it’s more important to learn how to lose with grace than to be the victor. (Man alive, I’m on a soapbox today, aren’t I?)

The kids competed in three-legged races, water-balloon tosses, and…


I knew that the different grade levels competed at tug of war. I knew that the young-5’s would be up against the big, huge, wooly-mammoth kindergarteners.

I had my “It’s important to give it your best, even if you don’t win” speech ready.

After field day, my three got loaded up in my mini-van. Mr. A plopped into his seat and buckled up. He looked exhausted.

“How was your day?” I asked.

“Well, we had to play tug of war with the big kids,” he said. Then, he smiled. “And we won.”

I wanted to pull the van over, climb on the roof, cheer out loud and do a backflip.

I was so proud.

Instead, I drove like the responsible tug-of-war-mom I’m supposed to be.

Mr. A’s grin grew. “They were so mad.”

“What did you guys say to them after you won?” I asked.

“We told them, ‘good game’.” He laughed. “I think that made them even more mad.”


Are you facing any “big kids”? If so, take heart, they don’t always win. Sometimes you do. And, when you do, it’ll feel pretty doggone good. 

Be kind to yourself today. And, while you’re at it, be kind to someone else, too. You never know what kind of big kids are defeating them over and over. 



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