Friday, May 14, 2010

The Chess game

About a month back, the six year old decided he wanted to start playing chess. Since the father is a much better chess player than I am, the burden of teaching him the rudiments of the game fell on him.
Within days, however, I realised that when father and son sat down to play, they played- the father was not teaching the son to think.
I then started playing the occasional game with my son, where before making any move, I would make him analyse it completely. His game improved tremendously, but the flip side of it was that he started thinking he was invincible.

When we sat down to play today, I realised the game was going to be different. He had decided not to listen to me, and was playing to defeat me. Since he refused to listen to me, and let his king gallop all over the battlefield, it was not difficult for me to checkmate him. The moment he realised he had lost, he burst into tears and started hitting me. "You cheated and won", he accused.
"I never cheat", I told him.
"But you won", he said, before adding, "and you are a bad player."
So it wasn't the losing that was the problem. The problem was that he had lost to who he considered a bad player.
"I am not all that bad", I told him.
"You said you are bad", he replied.
"Your father is better than I am, but I am not totally useless", I assured him.
But it was not enough. He hated that he had lost a game, and told me he would only stop crying after he played another game and defeated me in that.

I tried telling him that it took months of practice before you could become a good player, that he was good for his age and experience but not yet at a level where he could beat me. I told him that if I played to lose, his victory would be meaningless, and that I would never do that. But nothing seemed to register. I got him to stop crying by telling him that I would play another game with him after a couple of hours.

He's having his dinner now, and we will play as soon as he finishes. And all I am hoping for is that he gets tired of playing someone who is playing for a draw and decides to call the game off. Maybe a different parent may let him win, but that I refuse to do- in life, victories need to be earned, and he is never too young to learn that.

Who says parenting is easy?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like a no-win situation! Hope the next game goes better.

Plain Jane said...

He should play me. That would be a win he earned. I have never won even once.

dipali said...

Cleft stick, this one. You don't want to break his spirit, nor can you give him an easy victory. Tell us how it goes. All the best.

Lisa said...

Props to you Rayna! It is SO difficult being a parent sometimes. I think you handled this beautifully (I mean that in all sincerity) and you son will be a winner in the game of life if you continue this way.

As I told my son this morning, it's not always easy, but sometimes you have to push against how you feel and just do what needs to be done!

Have a great weekend!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Parenting is anything BUT easy! We wouldn't change it for the world though, would we?! Ha ha. :-)


It's good to teach children games that are well established, today many children like these modern games but do they learn from them?
I hope the next game will progress.You are doing a good job with your children.
Have a super week-end.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Talk about a fine line to walk!

Karen Walker said...

Such an important lesson you are trying to teach him, Rayna. Anyone who says parenting is easy hasn't done it or isn't doing it well. You sound like an incredible mother and some day, your little boy will know that.

Clarissa Draper said...

Parenting is not easy, I think your doing a great job from the stories you tell. Even now, and my son is 14, I have problems getting my son to think when he plays a game. He whines when he loses but I don't want to make playing a game with him too easy because I don't want him to whine... yikes! What's the answer?


Marjorie said...

That's why I only play games of chance with my kids. Ha! That way if I win they can't get mad at me for it. Well, they can but it won't be my fault.

Al said...

There is not much easy about being a parent.
My youngest was mad about chess until recently. When she was learning to play I never let her beat me. But she did find her victories playing others. She quickly became a player who was always in the game to win, but who was also a very sportsmanlike loser.
Then she found Tournament chess. Now the situation is reversed and she would NEVER let me beat her.

Jackee said...

Only non-parents say it's easy. :o) Experience teaches us better.

I agree--I want my children to feel the glory of a well-earned reward, not the hand out of a "you can't do better, so I'll get it for you." I was taught that way by my parents and I think I'm the better for it. (As opposed to a couple of my siblings who weren't taught self-reliance by them.)

I suppose "earning" publication is much the same!

Have a great weekend!

Ellie said...

Hard lesson, but necessary! It was tough, I have
done this, it is heart wrenching, but you knew
it was necessary. It is a life lesson, to understand, you can't always win.

YOU did the right thing, even though it tugged at your heart strings! I agree you are an incredible Mom!!!

Lydia Kang said...

Very true. I think the best win my son ever had playing chess with his dad was when hubbie turned to me and said, "He won. And I'm really surprised because I actually tried hard to beat him, and I couldn't!"

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Alex - the next game ended in an ugly draw, but I think he is starting to get that he can't always win.

@ Plain Jane - thanks for stopping by. And if you think you are much better than I am, you are mistaken ;-)

@ Dipali - ugly draw. Which is probably the best outcome there is.

@ Lisa - I do hope so, I really do. Parenting is probably the worst thing there is.

@ Shannon - no, we wouldn't. But I do wish it were not always so difficult.

@ Yvonne - there is so much to learn from these games, isn't it? Kids who are addicted to video games don't know what they are missing.

@ Diane - tell me about it

@ Karen - I do hope he gets what I am trying to do. Whether he knows it or not, as long as he learns the lessons, I am happy. And so true about the people who say parenting is easy

@ Clarissa - will it ever get any easier. I wonder.

@ Marjorie - I never liked games of chance when I was a kid

@ Al - I am glad you didn't let her win. I wouldn't either.

@ Jackee - so true. It is only after being a parent that you know how difficult it could be.

@ Ellie - precisely. It had to be done, because it was the right thing to do. But I do wish it was less hard.

@ Lydia - if I had heard that, I would never have forgotten it either. And I bet the hubby was secretly pleased.

Donna B said...

Oh Rayna. This post brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful Mother you are to teach him such important lessons. BRAVO!

slommler said...

A very important lesson indeed. I am bothered by his hitting you though. That should not be tolerated. Learning to lose gracefully is one thing. Respect is another matter all together.
Hugging you

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Donna - who ever said parenting is easy probably never tried it

@ SueAnn - I am just hoping it is a passing phase


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