I'm working on the couch in our living room when I hear screaming behind me. Each kid has a window marker in hand, my once clean double doors are covered in color, and Brinlee is celebrating Cohen, "You beat me!!" Man, it makes my heart so happy to hear
a good game of tic-tac-toe between two of my favorite people in the world. Never mind they were writing on the windows. Never mind that it's 11 am on a Saturday and my daughter was still in her pajamas (and don't you dare ask me if I was still in mine). These moments are precious. Watching these two loves of mine fiercely play game after game of tic-tac-toe made me smile. I smiled at how they treat each other. It made me think about how we all should treat each other. Let me follow that by saying, my kids fight all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. I keep willing them to be best friends, but the struggle is still real. My daughter is 9 and my son is 6. They know all the exact buttons to push to make each other crazy and they both have this voice when they complain that makes ME crazy. There is no avenue of discipline that seems to nip this “annoy the dog out of each other love” in the bud. We’ve tried it all. So, these moments when they are giggling and enjoying each other are precious.
In the realm of tic-tac-toe, Brinlee has been playing the game for a long time. This is our go-to game when we wait for …anything (waiting for food when we are out to eat, road trips, truly any time we have time). This means Brinlee has way more experience and is just better than he is. She has had more practice, she sees the moves she should make more easily, she is more patient, and she is way more competitive.
For sure we all have our own battles to fight. For my son, learning to lose with any kind of grace is a battle he had to learn to fight if he wanted to learn how to play. Cohen wanted to jump in and win. That was not going to happen. Brinlee doesn't do well at bringing herself down to his level to let him win. Personally, I’m not sad about that. I wonder where she got that from? (If you knew me as a coach, you're laughing at that.) However, on this particular day I watched a few beautiful pieces take place in these tic-tac-toe games. I watched Cohen not get frustrated at Brinlee winning, but telling her good job instead. I watched Brinlee stop and explain to him where he could have gone to set himself up to beat her. She cheered him on when he did beat her. Listen, they enjoyed cheering each other on. They enjoyed the losing as much as the winning because it meant being able to actually play the game with each other. Of course having someone to play with, to drive you to be better, to share victories with is an important part of growth…even in tic-tac-toe.
Isn’t that how we all should be? Shouldn’t we all be willing to teach each other, learn from each other, cheer each other on, and make every challenge just a little more enjoyable? We live in a world where we are so worried about staying ahead, keeping our own pace and making our own wins. It brings me to the question, do we sometimes forget to lift each other up on our way to the top? Do we let our feelings of failure keep us from growing? Do we forget to tap into the resources around us? Do we celebrate each other’s wins enough? Not to mention the simple fact that having good competition drives you to better.
What helps us grow, makes us great, and makes us stronger in our own “tic-tac-toe game” is the willingness to be open minded and open hearted. What’s so sweet is that Brinlee has grown to be the kind of sister that gives tips rather than just enjoying the win alone. Cohen has learned to love the loses as much as the wins. It’s a good thing too because Brinlee is good at the game. Here’s the deal…that’s the kind of world I want to live in! I want to have the kind of heart that celebrates the wins of those around me as much as I celebrate my own. I want to be willing to ask for help. I want to always be willing to share what I know. Maybe more importantly, I also want the kind of friends and peers who feel the same. WHY? … because this creates the kind of life that’s just more fun and full of growth. Life’s too short to fight to be on top at the expense of those you should be cheering on and growing with. My hope for us all is that we spend as much time cheering each other on as we do on working to be better ourselves. In a world full of critics, don’t forget to be a cheerleader. In a world full of selfishness, take time to give to others. I hope to say as often as I hear, "You beat me!" It is in this kind of world that you’ll find someone who is willing to selflessly cheer you on too!