Are you one of those people who believe that you should let little kids win at board games and matching games? Or do you come from the school of thought that advocates winning at all costs, little kids feelings and sense of fairness and fun be hanged?
I tend to err on the side of kindness which isn’t necessarily good for anyone involved in the long run.
I had a child that insisted on winning at the game “Husker Du?” as a toddler. At a very young age she showed stellar skill at this fun matching game. She possessed such outstanding skills, in fact, that we began to work at winning against her. She did not take kindly to our gamesmanship. In no uncertain terms she let it be known that she was not going to stand for losing at this game.
It got ugly. The word tantrum took on new meaning when she lost. We almost seriously considered exorcism a time or two because the tantrums escalated so badly (not really, I’m joking, calm down.) But ugly described the scene that ensued time after time. It became easier to just let her win. It wasn’t much fun for anyone. Not even her. To add to the challenge she didn’t want to know we were letting her win, it had to appear that we had really tried to win, but the outcome must result in her winning.
Stupid, yes! We got tired of that game rather quickly. And it mysteriously disappeared one day, never to return.
Fast forward about twelve years.
We had graduated to more challenging games such as Scrabble. Like Crocodile Dundee I would scoff when someone would suggest most board games, then pull out my Scrabble set and say in my best Australian accent, “Now there’s a game!”
Scrabble requires a tad bit of patience as each player needs to mull over various possible word plays. Of course, some people choose to put a time limit on a turn, but that’s a game of a different flavor. The patience factor lends itself to Scrabble as an internet game. Take your turn one day, wait for your opponents to take their turn over a few days, get on with your life, make your next play when you get around to it.
But playing the game live and in person requires more patience than your average, ordinary board game. If one of the opponents in the game seems deficient in the patience area you might want to consider tweaking the rules for time usage. Just a suggestion. A strong suggestion.
I am a person of extreme patience, usually. But twelve years ago “Israel” and “Palestine” (also known as daughter 2 and daughter 3) had inhabited my house for several years at that point. Occasionally a cease-fire would settle in but peace hung like a cadaver blowing in the breeze and threatened to disintegrate at the slightest provocation.
One day, during a deceptive lull in the lobbing of grenades and anti-aircraft fire and scud missiles in our home, the three of us decided to play a nice game of Scrabble. I know what you’re thinking at this point, and you’d be wrong. Trust me. Keep reading.
The game proceeded along as games do, with high interest in the proceedings initially, then boredom itching to join in the game, followed by snarky comments, occasionally drifting back into interest if a high score got played or the leader dropped behind. Halfway into the game things got a bit heated. The Tilby MIddle Western War threatened to kick into high gear. The peace treaty hung by a thread. Snark became argument, a well-played score became fodder for offensive posturing, two of the three parties bickered and argued ad infinitum.
Then it happened.
The long-suffering and patient camel hauling straw through the desert finally had the last straw laid down on her back.
I erupted in total and complete insanity.
“ENOUGH!!!” I yelled, slamming my hands on the table. “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” The Scrabble tiles jumped and shifted on the board at the onslaught. In one fell swoop of my angry arm I cleared the defenseless Scrabble board. Tiles flew across the table and scattered like so much shrapnel across the kitchen floor.
Both daughters stared at me, shell-shocked and nearly silent.
“WE!” I yelled picking up the empty Scrabble board. “ARE!” I yelled louder, if that was even possible. “DONE!” I yelled finally as I ripped the Scrabble board in half down the center fold. Then I tried ripping the pieces in half some more, but the dumb cardboard resisted my efforts. I bashed them over my knee to bend them in half.
I’m pretty sure some uncensored and inappropriate words for children escaped my snarled and probably foaming mouth as I stomped to the garbage can and hurled the offending destroyed Scrabble board into the garbage. I then gathered several handfuls of nearby Scrabble tiles and stuffed them inside the garbage can with the dead game board.
Nervous laughter was erupting from the table at this point, which of course only served as fuel for the flaming torch my head had become à la Hades from Hercules.
I grabbed the already falling apart box from the table and tore it in half, stuffing it thoroughly and decisively into the garbage. Then the four wooden tile trays suffered the disgrace of death by garbage can.
Without another word I stomped off to my bedroom and slammed the door as loudly as possible.
After this little fiasco “Israel” and “Palestine” maintained a cease-fire for an unusually extended period. The disgraced and embarrassed camel with the broken back has never lived down the events of that fateful day.
Several years later, and by several I mean at least three, a new deluxe version of Scrabble appeared under the Christmas tree, to me, from, you guessed it, my two warring countries, daughters 1 and 2.
I’m happy to report that the Tilby war ended a couple of years ago, meaning both daughters moved out and found lives separate and apart from one another. With age and experience they’ve become friends of sorts and get along well enough.
Their mother, well, she’s another story. Sure she seems calm and serene most of the time, but there’s always a bit of a simmer under that facade. The secret, she’s found is to let lift the lid occasionally and let the pressure dissipate. Hopefully, with age and wisdom, the temper tantrum throwing mother will never, ever erupt again.
But I wouldn’t count on it.