Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mom's Middle Name is Icarus

Motherhood is a lifelong lesson in humility. In the beginning, you surrender your body. When you first see the child face to face, any part of your heart still your own gets engulfed. But the ego takes a while to whittle down to nothingness, and that comes with the long haul of raising a human being.

I’ve lost two pounds of pride in the past week.

Monday, I was supposed to feel smart. After all, I had an article in the Washington Post. It was my second ever.

Then my nine year old son asked me to play Stratego.

He schooled me.

I didn’t get even close.
The first game, he found my flag in three easy moves using scouts.

The second game, I snapped at him for watching as I arranged my pieces, certain I was telegraphing the location of my flag with every flick of a hand. I tried doing a shell game as I shuffled pieces but then I got confused. He mowed down one row and just flooded the back side, destroying my carefully laid defenses. I believe my casualty rate was 80% and 20% for him. Maybe General Custard had it worse, but few can chalk up such appalling numbers on a field of battle in such consistent play and not be removed from command.

My son tried to console me. “Maybe next time, you’ll do better.” He smiled. “It’s the first two times I’ve won.” He grinned again. He had been playing his dad and older brother. I wondered if the Stratego skill was on the Y chromosome. My son eagerly set up the game again.

“How about chess?” I offered.
“Go Fish?”
He gave me a pittying look and shook his head.

The phone rang. Desperate for a reprieve from another beating, I pounced on the receiver. I would have consented to hear a sales pitch for timeshares at that point but as luck had it, it was my husband. “Hey Honey, I got you several papers. The article looks good.” I temporarily basked in glory again. “She was smart once.” I thought.

My son jumped on the phone. “Dad! Dad! I crushed Mom! It was beautiful! She never had a clue where my flag was and I Won!” Back to Earth.

My other son came into the room, looked at my reactive set up to the prior game’s obliteration and started giving me pointers. Proof that it really had been as bad as I thought; my victorious son did not protest my getting help. He even offered some strategic tips. Fifteen minutes of tutorial on feints and defenses, strategic losses and the effective use of the spy and I still lost splendidly. Again. And Again. And Again. Now I know there are games where you have to lose multiple times to grasp the concept, games like Chess and Go, Hearts and Spades, but after a perfect record of 0 and 6, my son must have felt bad, as he didn’t ask for another game.

Maybe I wasn’t enough of a challenge. He disappeared for a while. Just when I was starting to feel perky again about my piece in the Post, my son returned with a new game board under his arm. “You need to work on strategy Mom. So I thought maybe we should play checkers instead.”

I’m not telling who won, but the scale says I lost another pound.

For healthy servings of Humble Pie, try


RJW said...

You are better than me. I don't even know how to play Stratego. (Can do checkers, though.)

Benjamin said...

General Custard??

and his wife Molly Pudding?

Good luck with Stratego

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