Sunday, September 10, 2006

Let The Wookie Win

Gina at Just Another Day posted about playing games with her grandfather, who always had to win, even when the opponent was a child, and not wanting to do that to her child, and I was thinking that I knew the answer to her problem, when I read further and discovered that she didn't have the problem I thought she had. The problem she didn't have, the one I know the answer to, is "how do you let a child know the glory of really winning and not cheat so that he can?"

The reason that I know the answer to that is that when I was 12 and Forrest was seven, we moved to El Paso and in the beginning we didn't know any kids but each other. While my mother was unpacking, she sent us outside to play croquet. Except that I was so much better than Forrest that he didn't stand a chance of winning and he got tired of losing, so he started cheating. I wasn't having any of that! I stopped playing with him, which led to him crying and complaining and that led to Mama telling me that for God's sake couldn't I just play with him so she could get some work done and me saying that I wouldn't play with a cheat and that led to my poor mother declaring that she didn't care if he did cheat, she had to get the kitchen unpacked if we were going to have dinner that night and I could just go back out there and "keep him out of my hair, damn it!"

I went back out there and he continued to cheat and I couldn't wouldn't stand for that, so I hit him over the head with my mallet and knocked him out and scared the wadden out of Mama and me.

Years later, when I read Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott I really paid attention when he said that when adults or older children play games with children, the way to give them a chance to actually win was to handicap the adult/older child! That way, everyone has a fair chance, the younger child knows about the handicap and understands why and so isn't being condescended to and all is well.

Well, when Richard was four I taught him to play chess. Part of the problem was that I didn't really know how to play chess., I learned the moves in college and by the time you're in college no one wants to play with someone who doesn't know what she is doing, so all I ever did learn was the moves. I started out with Richard having all of his pieces and me having only half of my pieces. As he began to win games, I gave myself pieces back, starting with pawns and leading to the queen.

And before he was six he could beat me every time we played, which he still can. The problem was that he would beat me with the play called "Fool's Mate"! Time after time, he would lure me into Fool's Mate.

Anybody know how to allow a mother to win once in a while without cheating?


Lorna said...

Just cheat---kids will have to learn to deal with cheating, and where better than from a nurturing mother? I checked out your profile, and we have in common the Year of the Horse, and Tony Hillerman.

gawilli said...

There are many children that seldom play board games and what a sad thing that is. There are so many life lessons that can be gleaned by sitting at a table with someone and playing a game. Win or lose.

Enjoyed your post! I will bookmark you and stop back by! Visiting from Betty's site.

meno said...

I guess it's because you are such a good teacher. Always a good way to lose, but still take the credit!

Gina said...

Yes, yes, I desperately want to know the answer! ;)

Ally Bean said...

great story. good question too.