Whenever I play checkers with my youngest daughter, she always says, “Play like you mean it.”
Obviously, I know what she’s talking about. She doesn’t want me to go easy on her and let her win. But at the same time, she gets frustrated and angry when I continually jump her pieces and ask her to “King me.”
I think this interaction actually highlights a lot of what our children need and think they want from us. They don’t want us to do everything for them; they want us to help them do it themselves. It’s a delicate balance between tying their shoes for them, and watching as they stress over getting the loops just right when we’re already five minutes late getting out the door for school. It then involves trying to figure out how to let them allow you to re-tie the shoes so they won’t trip.
I haven’t played checkers in years, but it is harder than I remember. Now, I play like I know what I’m doing, but yet, have to pretend like I don’t see obvious moves so that I can allow my daughter to gain some ground on me. I think it actually takes more skill to play a game this way. So, while I’m teaching my daughter to play checkers, I’m learning how to lose artfully one missed King at a time.
Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, reporter for WRAL-TV and author of several books including one on motherhoold called "Smotherhood."