Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Back when that silly Facebook "25 things about you" thing was going around, I played it cool for as long as I could, and then totally jumped on board. I took quite a long time on my list, and it was full of silly anecdotes and facts about Emily. I was secretly very proud of it. Since then, the random fact that my friends have most commented on is:

"When I was younger, I would play ping pong with my dad all the time. The games were always close, but he always beat me. Afterwards, he would run around the basement, hands in the air, singing “We are the Champions.” I’m pretty sure I got my competitive nature from him."

I'm horribly competitive. Horribly competitive. Think of the worst winner that you know and then double that obnoxious behavior. That's me. Then think of the worst loser you know and multiply that by about 100. Me again. It's pretty bad. I can sometimes disengage this behavior, but what I've found is that if I like and respect my competitor, it's impossible to turn off. I turn into the worst version of myself, obsessively focused on winning.* I'm really glad my friends know this and don't hold it against me. It's because I like and respect you that I want to kick your ass. Really. If I didn't care about you, I would be all "Meh." (but kick your ass anyway.)

As you can probably infer from the above fact about Emily, my father never let me win. At anything. I used to think it's because he thought this was a good way for his children to learn a lesson about winning, but now I just think it's because he hates to lose as much as I do.** The boy thinks that never winning made me tough. I think I could probably be a little less tough and still be okay. It's not that I ever wished my father would let me win... I guess I just wish he hadn't introduced me to ping pong until I had the capacity to beat him.

Which brings me to chess. I used to play chess. In fact, I was in a chess club in middle school.*** (elementary school?) I don't remember being very good, but then again, Vanessa's little brother was phenomenal and beat me every time. Did I mention that he was FOUR years younger than I was? So I would play with my father for "practice." My dad also beat me every time.

MAN was that frustating.

So when I tell people that I went home for Father's Day and beat my father at chess for the first time in my life,**** they're horrified. "It was father's day! You can't beat your dad on FATHER'S DAY!!!"

Darn tootin' I can. The man never LET me win in my life. I'm sure as heck not going to give him the game just because it's father's day. In fact, I beat him twice. And I'm pretty sure my dad respects me for it. (He told me he's proud of me and that I have a "quick mind." That almost made me act like a gracious winner. Almost.)

Of course, he's also found a chess buddy***** in Evansville and he's practicing for our next meeting. And he's retired. So he's got a LOT of time to practice. Looks like I've got a tough battle ahead of me if I want to beat him again.

But then, I would expect nothing less.

Anyone want to play some chess with me?

*Dawn will never know how many frigging games of Bejeweled I played. And still can't beat her. That might be why I hate that stupid game. Well, that and the fact that she taunted me just enough to push me to the edge of sanity, but not OVER it. Otherwise I would STILL be playing that ridiculous, unwinnable game.

**What I didn't include in that little fact about me was that the very first time I beat my father in ping pong was the very last time we ever played.

***I have never claimed to be part of the "cool kids" clique.

****There MAY have been dancing. And there MAY have been cheerleading in the form of "Give me a W! Give me an I! Give me an N! What's that spell?!!!!!!" It wasn't pretty.

*****My mother was quick to gleefully inform the chess buddy that my father had lost to his daughter. You can imagine how happy my dad was when he told me that story.


Candace said...

I think I will pass on the chess but what about a loud game of Rummy-cube?

I agree with your father, never let the children win just because they are younger. They do need the lesson that life isn't easy and you have to work if you are going to succeed. You don't get a free pass.

Dawn said...

yeah, I only taunted you the one time. I told Sharon the last time you got ahead of me that I'd let you keep it for a few hours before I took it back, just so you wouldn't get suicidal haha ;) love you!

BTW, when I was just in CA, it's all Sharon and I did....sit across the room from eachother and play Bejeweled. She was ahead of me and I HAD to beat her!!! (I did)

Sharon said...

Dawn is evil! And almost as bad as you....

ems said...

All I have to say to that is that if I'm bad at Bejeweled, then you must be REALLY bad because I'm pretty sure I just passed you....


zlionsfan said...

I may be mistaken, but I think you used to be a worse competitor than you are now.

It may also be that we just don't compete much.

I don't believe in letting people win. It's cheap and it robs them of the achievement they would otherwise deserve. And it may also be something they wouldn't otherwise be able to get. (For example, if some parent wandered over to me at BWW and asked me to let little Jimmy win one game, my answer would be hell no, and I'm not sure that isn't verbatim.) Handing someone a victory teaches them that they get what they want whether or not they deserve it.

I think it's better to half-play and half-teach if you want a child to learn without truly competing, and really, that's hard to do in most things. (Fortunately, most board games have an electronic version these days, and that's one of the better ways to teach someone ... let them play the computer and gradually increase the difficulty. There are several games that also have teaching modes or entire teaching programs for a particular game.)

I also think it's important to teach your children to win and lose with dignity and respect for your opponent. It's not an easy thing to learn on your own, and particularly in team sports, bad behavior multiplies in its own presence much more readily than good behavior does.