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Games I Cannot Win

By LC Van Savage

Now that we have three grandchildren living a few doors away, I often think about the entire experience. The family of five, son Paul, daughter in law Kate and their three fabulous proj, Jordan, Tommy and Hannah have been here for two years come July 21st, and I can honestly say there hasnít once been a single instance of angst or trouble or anything negative. OK, Iím speaking for myself here and have no idea what Paul and Kate say about us behind closed doors although I try really hard to listen through them when I go over there unexpectedly.

Alas, hanging with our grandchildren has brought back all sorts of unpleasant memories for me; well, one at least-- board games. OK, all games. I suck at them if I may use the vernacular, and canít ever recall winning any, and that includes Tic-Tac-Toe. Hop Scotch was a math-involved nightmare, Kick the Can entailed running, kicking (and missing) a can on someoneís lawn, Hide and Seek never gave me enough time to hide in that rapid-fire counting from my so-called friends. Bingo? Fuggedabowdit. Checkers, both Chinese and American made me weep in frustration, puzzles had to have no more than 20 pieces and those as big as plates, I had to cheat at Monopoly to win, I can only manage three letter words in Scrabble, mostly just two, Candygram is way too chancy, Go Fish is too much like hard core gambling at which I also suck, I forget how to play Old Maids and never won anyway, and I am convinced Tiddlywinks is a game created by Satan. I am afraid of games, I never win games, I donít know why we have to play them all the time, and I do not like games Sam I Am, so competition, even against 3 to 7 year olds, is brutal, cruel and far too one-sided for me and thus I eschew, avoid, run from and hate it.

OK, I guess itís a good thing to bond with children, all of us hunched over a table working out the intricacies of Parcheesi, discussing options, generating warm memories, laughing. Losing. But, it really hurts when a 4 year old walks past my private game of Solitaire and disgustedly announces that ďeveryone knows Kings fill in all those blank spaces, Gramma.Ē Itís good she doesnít see me stick my tongue out at her departing back.

Theyíre just plain mean, these young game playing mavens. I mean not everyone can be a champion of board and other games, but does that make us bad people? I donít think so. We who do not win games have other qualities worth considering you know. Maybe weíre good at bug collecting, or ditto rocks or ditto shells. Maybe weíre really good at making up stories or creating junk or planning occasions or staring at clouds or talking about trees and turtles and stuff. Just because a few of us canít win games doesnít mean we have to be put out on the ice, does it? This is a free country with lots of people in it, right? So it just makes sense that some can and some canít when it comes to games, and those who canít, teach. Therefore I am teaching my grandchildren to not humiliate Bucky (thatíd be me) by hauling out something in a box with dice and small plastic pieces and expect me to be all happy about playing with it.

And, did I really have to hear our seven year old granddaughter remark shrilly in a crowded store when I advised her I did not know how to play Chess, ďWhat? You canít play chess? Bucky, thatís impossible!Ē Consistently losing games is something of which I am not proud, so I donít necessarily want any of our beloved grandchildren to know too much about this personal failing. Iíd prefer unconditional adulation.


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