I'm an only child and I spent a lot of time playing games alone when I was growing up (first draft said "playing games with myself" -- that just didn't sound right!). I remember that Battleship (really, how do you play Battleship with yourself?) and War (the card game) were two of my favorites. I also spent a lot of time shuffling cards one at a time to achieve the "perfect" shuffle and see how that would affect the order of the cards. Hmm. That makes me sound really strange, doesn't it? Well, anyway!
We play a lot of games here, with Gus, but sometimes he has to play alone too. I'm cooking dinner or nursing Abe and he doesn't want to wait. Also, I believe amusing one's self is an important skill to have. Last night after getting everyone tucked in for the night I came down to the living room and found Sequence all set up mid-game and just had to laugh at how Gus' game was going! Let's see...Gus has two dragons and a unicorn (these are the "magic" cards) and his opponent (usually him pretending to be me) has three regular cards! Hey, if you have to play by yourself I guess you should at least win, right?
I do dislike that after a certain age so much of playing involves winning and losing. I don't let Gus win every game we play, but I do let him win the majority of them (and sometimes he legitimately beats me). I know parents who always lose and I've heard of (but haven't met!) parents who never throw a game. I guess competition is a naturally occurring situation; I'm a competitive person in many ways and yet I remain uncomfortable with it for my five year old. Maybe because I don't want him to be sad? It's such a hard thing for a parent to know your child is going to experience sadness, and know not only that you can't prevent it, but that you shouldn't.
But, there is something I can do: I bought a cooperative game for his Valentine's Day present. He's played it at a friend's house, so I know he'll like it. There are a whole bunch of them available (I found mine locally at a really cool store). It seems like winning or not winning can take the fun right out of a game (board game, ball game, whatever). At least now we can introduce an alternative some of the time. What do those of you who are parents do about competition and winning/losing with your kids?