I think we all know the only reason to play a game with a child is the secret knowledge that any time we could crush them. Yes, yes, we play games to foster creativity, and for interaction, but what is really enjoyable about it is that we know we are letting them win, and that at any moment we could snatch that away from them and leave them crying. It's sad, but it's true, and it has made Parker Brothers millions of dollars. It's only when that knowledge leaves us that the games are no longer fun.
That is what happened to me last night.
It was all so tempting. A new memory game featuring brightly colored candy, a warm sitting room, a fire in the fireplace, and, best of all, a bright eyed four year old girl. I thought I would sit, drink wine, talk to my friend (the unwitting child's mother), and magnanimously let her win, all the while enjoying my benevolence. Really, could you pass that up? I thought not.
I didn't really pay attention during the first game. It was all so fast, and I was drinking wine. The next thing I knew it was all over, and I had only three pairs: circus peanuts, candy necklaces, and some sort of nonpareil. Not only had she beaten me, but she had only let me take the crappiest candy on the board.
She wanted to play again, so I took the challenge. I put down my wine glass and concentrated on the board. Every move she made I watched, trying to burn the location of every candy into my brain. I started wondering why the hell we need so many types of candy in the world. I began to imagine that some of them had to be made up. The child started to make chewing noises every time she turned over another pair, letting my know she was not only eating candy, but my self-esteem as well. I wasn't going to let her swallow it whole.
I picked up red licorice. She picked up Good and Plenty. I picked up peanut brittle. She took candy corn. Lollipops. Taffy. Some kind of candy that looked like rabbit turds. One that looked like Czech cough drops. The cards were flying fast and furious. Finally, only four remained -- and it was my turn.
I turned over the first card -- jelly slices. I knew exactly where it was. I had seen it at least 20 times during the game. Also, there were only four cards left. I grabbed the second card and deftly turned it over revealing gummy -- wait for it -- WORMS.
The chomping noises she made while gathering up the last cards still ring in my ears.
The worst part of the story? At the end of each game, in order to name the winner, we had to stack our cards next to each other. Once stacked the four year old, who now appeared to have the eyes of a demon would say "look Libby, mine's bigger." Not only did she win multiple times, but she publicly shamed me too.
On my way out the door, my friend patted me on the shoulder. "She always beats me too," she said. I know she was trying to make me feel better, but I swear I heard a hint of pride in her voice.
My memory training starts now. Retribution will be mine. Oh yes, yes it will.