Saturday, June 13, 2009

It ain't over til the last tile is laid!

It only took about 7 years, but it finally happened. Seven years of coaching, allowing minor cheating and ruthless competing. It had happened on a couple of other occasions, but not legitimately, so I never considered them real victories. But last night, I let my guard down when I was ahead by about 60 points, started to coast and lost my focus when she pounced. Emma beat me at Scrabble. Arrrgggh! Say it ain't so! She is still only 14. How could I let this happen? Emma and I have had an ongoing competition at Scrabble that other parent/child relationships may not have survived. I insisted she finish games she was hopelessly losing. I pointed out time and time again how she had wasted high point letters and missed triples and doubles by not thinking. She would get so angry with me sometimes, I couldn't believe she ever suggested playing again. But eventually she always came around and it was "game-on". Even my husband chastised me from time to time. "Jesus, Deb, let her win once in awhile." I always said no - that was his shtick, not mine. I wanted her to learn to win on her own accord. No gimmes for this kid. She was gonna work for it. She would beg to use foreign words. "No," I would tell her. "Can I pluralize that word, Mom?" "No", I would reply again. "I don't want to play anymore," she would say. "I never get any good letters," she would whine. "I wanted to use that triple; you took my spot!" she'd pout. "You need to think strategy more Emma," I would insist. Last night as it looked as though I was sailing to yet another trounce, it was I who stopped paying attention to strategy. It was I who wasted letters on useless point squares, so sure I had won, I stopped trying. I even asked her if she wanted to pack it in. "No mom, I don't." She surprised me a little at that moment, but I let her keep some hope for a winning outcome. For once, she scanned the board for her best odds, she created squares and blocks and took advantage of every double letter, double word, triple letter, triple word and in a most spectacular come- from- behind second wind, she, my beautiful determined daughter, crossed the finish line with triumph and glee in her face and her voice and screamed, "Aha! Mom! - I beat you by ONE POINT!" I didn't ask for a re-count. I didn't challenge her words. I looked at her joyous face and raised my hand in the air and we high-fived and I knew all my tough-love tactics had finally paid off. She won on her own accord, with no gimmes, no bending of the rules and she won the game fair and square. She could have taken on the world at that moment. I would have encouraged her to do so. Instead, she wants to play me again tonight. I wonder why? Best 2 out of 3 maybe? I'll give her the option.

No comments: