We are a game-playing household. I realize that this is likely genetic. Some people are just game playing people, and some are not. My nephew, on one hand, managed about 30 seconds of UNO before he began throwing cards this way and that. My kids, on the other hand, have been game players for years–and they’re not even that old. For a while it was the Ladybug Game. Mornings before school, afternoons before pickup. K and I played that game so often that I could choose a card and know what space I would end up on without actually ever moving. Then it was UNO, which is purse-sized and thus able to come to karate, Chick-Fil-A, and anywhere in between. Recently, M graduated to chess, much to K’s dismay. Chess is just a wee bit beyond her four-year-old capabilities.
I’m a good sport about most games. In fact, it’s not uncommon that I will mis-move, shuffle cards, or otherwise swing a game in their favor from time to time. Not always, but often enough to keep the playing field fair. I feel like that’s only right, seeing as I have had a lot more years of game playing/winning. But chess is a different story. I have a really hard time throwing chess. Maybe it’s my competitive nature; maybe it’s the logical principles of the game. And poor M plays game after game, justifiably behind his 33-year-old challenger.
Until today. This morning, M finally beat me at chess. Fairly–though I will point out that I was also making breakfasts and lunches and clipping coupons while playing. But fairly! And there was an unbelievable swell of joy that came along with this–that he’d bested me, that he’d persisted in playing game after game even though they always ended in checkmate.
And then tonight, post-dinner, we were playing Connect Four. I made a slip and groaned in frustration. “I totally missed that,” I said, waiting for him to place his fourth in a row. “Because it’s almost Mother’s Day,” he said sweetly. And then he put his piece somewhere else, throwing the game in my favor. At the tender age of six. I guess we’re learning rules of all kinds here, and the ways they subtly bend out of love.