April 19, 2010

The Games We Play

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.


  1. "USELESS... Now there’s a seven letter word for you..."

    Very funny.

    I'm at the stage where I'm still pretending to myself that I'm letting my son win. Self-delusion is a good thing for one's ego.

  2. Oh, yes, the humiliation!

    Thank God for school!!

  3. My daughter is too young yet to play mind games with. Or, in any case, she's too young to *know* I'm playing mind games with her...

    Instead I do this with my nieces and nephews. I agreed to play chess with my 5-year-old nephew the other day, and he proceeded to make up the rules. In his world, you can take out all of your opponent's pieces by only moving one of your horses. And I let him, just because I found it funny.

    Then he wanted to play again. Ha - by then I knew his 'rules' so I played by them too. And I won, which he wasn't too happy about.

    I just needed to show him, though, that I *will* win when I choose to.

    Yep, I'm a wonderful, kind aunty...

  4. I'm not a "let them win" person either.

    I'm more a dance around, pointing in face and screaming "In your FACE! I won!" kinda mum.

    Humiliating, I can feel your pain. Personally, I'd beat him with an empty chardonnay bottle .... maybe that's just me ...

  5. My daughter loves Monopoly. The thing is, she's tight and buys nothing and then gets the shits when I pound her with some rent from all of my utility companies. Tears, always tears.

  6. see my son either 'goes easy' on me - as he puts it, or thrashes me at everything - loves the pick up 4 change colour card in Uno and uses it with reckless abandon, in connect 4 he ALWAYS wins and to play any kind of computer game with him is to be the player carried or put inot a bubble because you are 'wasting too many lives' - Am SO happy school is back and I am non compeditive - the arguments it causes with sister and dada just aren't worth it...

  7. That is priceless. Games require good karma- for example the random selection of scrabble tiles can be eased by deep breaths, relaxing, not trying too hard and a little positive affirmation to the universe. I'm not saying this because I am a hippy! I say it because I'm a scorpio and thus Love winning. Try thinking 'big words big words' as you're drawing the tiles and see if it works. :)

  8. I rarely beat my wife at Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit. Do you know how humiliating that is ? I mean, she's a BLONDE !

  9. You need to learn "Calvin Ball" - then you'll always win.

  10. Mr6 - yes, six - occasionally beats me at Star Wars Connect Four and I try to pretend I let him. I mean, six! As for Scrabble, I'm like you - all about words and USELESS at Scrabble. it's only at matter of time before Mr6 is whipping my butt there too. Oh the misery. As for Monopoly - we haven't gone there yet, but I see my future writ large. Thank God for school.

  11. I certainly haven't lost yet. I'll play you any time, any place.

  12. I could only just bring myself to read this post & the comments, you see games for me are excruciating in the extreme. Add to that the fact I'm very competitive & really, it's a recipe for utter disaster.
    School holidays are great, games are not, unless I get to cheat and make up rules, and win, win, win.

  13. I certainly haven't lost yet. I'll play you any time, any place.

  14. My daughter loves Monopoly. The thing is, she's tight and buys nothing and then gets the shits when I pound her with some rent from all of my utility companies. Tears, always tears.


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