My 4-year-old son has a good memory.


For the past few weeks, he’s gotten really into sports. I was able to lure him into sports using his love of geography.

It actually worked.

But there’s one problem: he doesn’t fully understand the impact of winning and losing.

The concept of it, he gets — sure. But seeing your favorite team lose when you’re that emotionally invested? He doesn’t yet understand that part of sports.

I’m a big San Francisco 49ers fan. And if you were one of the 123 million people who tuned in to the Super Bowl in February, you’d know the 49ers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

My son knows that too.

He calls the Chiefs the “team from Missouri” — because he only knows states. But he calls the Niners the “team from San Francisco” — because he’s familiar with that city and has been there.

And even though it’s been a couple of months since the Super Bowl, he still remembers that game well.

And when I’m playing basketball with him on our mini-hoop, he’ll bring it up. Often.

Here’s how it plays out:

“Score! I made a 3, so now I’m up 34 to 31,” I say excitedly as I give him the tiny basketball.

“Hey Dada,” he’ll start. “Remember when San Francisco lost to Missouri in the championship?”

“Yes,” I say, sighing, recalling the heartbreak.

He laughs.

He shoots a 3.

“I made it Dada! 34 to 34!”

I sigh again.

Or we could be taking a bath and having a perfectly nice time, before he decides to ruin everything:

“Okay, let me rinse your arm,” I say, pouring water over his arm.

“Hey Dada…”

“Oh no,” I mutter. I know where this is going.

A sly smile forms as he announces, “Remember when San Francisco lost to Missouri? You remember that?”

“Yes. Yes I do.”

“And you were sad?”

“I was sad.”

“And you really wanted them to win?”

“I really wanted them to win.”

He laughs.

I continue with the bath; my night is now miserable.

It doesn’t end there.

When he inevitably wins a game of basketball on our small hoop in the house (I do actually try, I promise. He just wins anyway) — he’ll be sure to remind me of that too.

Here’s how that plays out:

“Okay, time to go brush your teeth and then go to bed,” I say, ushering him to the bathroom.

“Hey Dada, remember when I beat you 5 times in basketball? And yesterday I won 81 to 73?”

“Yes,” I sigh. “I do remember.”

“Maybe you need to practice more, Dada.”

“Maybe I do.”

“Because I beat you 5 times.”

“Yes. I remember.”

“How did I beat you 5 times, Dada?” he laughs.

I don’t know. I really don’t.

Nothing quite like a daily reminder that my mini-basketball-hoop skills are not as good as a 4-year-old’s.

And then, just when I have some slight satisfaction that I humored him and indulged him in remembering his past victories…

Just when I start to move on…

Just when we need to go to sleep and end the night on a good note…

“Hey Dada…” he says with a smile.

Oh no.

“Remember when…”

Don’t do it.

“San Francisco…”

I didn’t let him finish. I had already darted away to the bedroom.

This article was originally published at Medium. Republished with permission from the author.