Following the rules


We recently played an intense game of Monopoly at our house. If you have ever played, you know this real estate game is won by strategy – buy as much property as possible. Monopoly tycoons understand adding “value” with hotels and homes increases rent and profits every time another player lands on their property. In every game, there are winners and there are losers – it’s part of it. Our oldest son was so frustrated, working every angle to buy out some of my properties to try to win the game fairly. I would not relent, and we made him compete to win. I appreciate his focus and attention on strategy. I also loved the fact everyone was careful to follow the rules, consulting the rule book as necessary. 

When I first met my husband’s family living in Wellsville, Kan., his sister had a horse she called “Loser.” I thought the name was harsh and asked her about the background behind it. She had named the filly after Nathan’s previous romantic interest of several years – Losing Laura. Everyone thought this was hilarious, except for Nathan. This was more than 20 years ago, and I maintain her loss was my gain. Some things are just meant to be.

As our children and many of their friends in 4-H and FFA are preparing projects and show animals for the Washington County Fair, I know the most important lesson they’ll learn is being young people of good character. Work hard, follow the rules and be good sportsmen and women in every competition. These are valuable experiences. The other thing I think we have instilled in our children is standing up for fairness – for themselves and for others.

Our son’s baseball coach recently announced he would be taking a head coaching position at a college in Arkansas. We are happy for him; this is a great opportunity. Our loss is another group of players’ gain. I carefully explained the situation to my youngest son. Of course, he was bummed to learn he was losing this great coach. 

When the new organization’s owner met with parents, he asked us what the one thing was we did not want to lose in the new program. I piped up and explained to him that the reason we bring our son was for him to not only learn the fundamentals of baseball, but I mostly appreciated his coach continuing to build his character. I firmly believe that if we don’t focus on our children’s character now, they will grow up to be adults who do not work hard and cheat systems to get ahead in life. 

I look forward to the growth of this new organization and am excited about the coaching staff continuing to build our son up in his love for the game of baseball. 

Our family is involved in many things – a farm, businesses, sports and politics. I hold firm to the belief that when we train our children to be people of good character, they will be strong and courageous adults. I know they will have experiences of cheating and unfairness, and I hope we are teaching them by our own example to stand up for what is right in any situation, no matter the cost. 

After all, cheaters never win, and winners never cheat. Right, neighbor?

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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