Those of you with children or grandchildren (and those of you who actually are children, in which case do your homework and don’t take drugs) will know all about school holidays.
During the holidays, I frequently find myself trapped in the torturous hell that is games. Yes, every day, after watching TV, going for a bike ride to the park, visiting Nana, reading, doing some craft and seeing friends, we are still left with hours to go till bedtime, with only our imaginations or games to see us through. And after all the wine I have consumed to make it to evening, quite frankly, my imagination isn’t up to scratch. So games it is.
Our first game of choice is usually Find Four (aka 'Four In A Line'), generally because we can play it on the computer, so it doesn't require cleaning up. Now, I am not bad at Find Four. I know this because I can easily beat my daughters at it (and yes, the two year old doesn’t actually know how to play, but the eight year old puts up a damn good fight).
Still, I cannot - and I mean CANNOT - beat my son. I know that plenty of people let their children win, but I am not one of them. And if I was, I wouldn’t need to. My ten year old is a maths prodigy, and employs some whizz bang Find Four strategy, and beats me virtually every single time. Even when I attempt to copy him (and believe me, I've tried) I CANNOT WIN. It is humiliating, to say the least.
Now, I am a very smart person. I promise. I did really well in Maths at school. And the fact that I am effectively begging you to believe I'm not an idiot shows how deeply my son's ongoing victory has affected my self esteem.
Happily, though, we don’t play Find Four forever. Unhappily, we also play Scrabble. Now, let me preface this by saying that as well as being good at Maths, I have a degree in English and Linguistics. I have studied the art of language. And yet I cannot put together one stupid word with seven letters at my disposal. My son regularly gets seven letter words like 'interns', and I can manage nothing better than 'man' or ‘at’, experiencing brief moments of triumph when I land on a ‘double letter’ space with the 't'.
The ultimate indignity is when he asks me, 'Mum, you're a writer, how come you're so bad at this?' Because I'm USELESS, son. Okay??? Now there’s a seven letter word for you...
Then of course there’s Monopoly. This has the advantage of including the element of chance; bizarrely, though, this doesn’t stop my son from thrashing me anyway. Even by the law of averages I should have won once or twice. I’d suspect he steals from the bank, but as I’m the banker, I have only myself to blame.
So as you can imagine, the kids returning to school couldn’t have come soon enough. It’s not that I don’t love spending time with them, truly. It’s just that my ego can’t take it.