With two preschool-aged boys in the house, everything is a competition. Every morsel of our day is measured and compared to see who got to “go first” and who got half an ounce more applesauce.
They come by it naturally. My husband and I have been known to be asked to “tone it down” when playing board games with friends. He’s a coach by profession, so there is some natural motivation to win.
Imagine our surprise then, when we fell in love with cooperative games this winter! We were given Hoot Owl Hoot and introduced to a novel concept: In some games, all the players are on the same team and working together as a team toward a common goal is the only way to win. In cooperative games, it is in each player’s best interest to look out for the good of the whole because the game ends with all of us winning or none of us winning.
We’ve taken to calling ourselves Team Williams, even when the game board isn’t out. Sometimes, the four of us need a reminder that we are in this together. We are working toward the same goals. We need each other to survive.
It’s one thing to adopt this attitude while playing games within our home, but I’m also hoping this is one of the concepts my children learn through this COVID crisis.
No one in our household is in a vulnerable population, so we are privileged and powerful. We have resources that others don’t have. Our role is to assume we are carriers and try to to prevent transmitting the virus. We are willing to make decisions that don’t always feel convenient or preferable to our little family if those decisions are better for the common good. (Some days a pep talk is required to gain perspective, but luckily, Team Williams has a pretty awesome “coaching staff” of inspirational encouraging souls that get us back on track when we need it.)
I know many mothers aim to raise children who are “productive members of society.” I’ve often thought about what that means. I usually focus on the productive part of that phrase, but lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that sometimes it’s just recognizing that we exist within a community with other people whose health and well-being matters just as much as our own.
This crisis provides an amazing opportunity to demonstrate that ego can be tamed and empathy can be grown. We teach them that setting aside our convenience to serve someone else isn’t a loss, but a gain.
Moms, we are each players on a team—Team Kansas City. We have entered a cooperative game. We need one another. We are being invited to share our resources. We are being called to think outside of ourselves. Wide-sperad, universal community wellness is the benchmark for winning. Our children are watching us play, so let’s make it a cooperative game!