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When technology fails, it’s time to check out checkers

Submitted by on Sunday, 28 December 2008 No Comment

I don’t remember what I got for Christmas when I was 5, but I suspect the lineup included a doll, a dish set and something Suzy Homemaker.

I suspect the collection didn’t include gifts that were either broken on delivery or rendered inoperable soon thereafter.

Such has been Christmas this year for Big Guy:

  • I Can Play Guitar, never played. It’s sitting in his closet waiting for me to ship it back. I suspect the problem is the software, and I’m j happy the gift was from me, not Santa. I’ll take the hit for Claus, in whom Big Guy’s trust is teetering anyway.
  • Batman computer games he got to use long enough to figure out  he really likes them. Then the guys’ computer died. I suspect the problem is the video card, which would make it the second time that part’s failed on this same Presario. It’s sitting on his desk, waiting on the box from HP for me to ship it back.
  • Ugly Army tank failed due to Dad’s big foot. We pieced it back together without a massive cost-plus contract from Halliburton, though it lists a bit.

Which meant that when Big Guy complained last night that he had nothing new to play with, he wasn’t exaggerating  much.

He remembered seeing a wrapped present stashed on a top shelf days ago. “Can we open it now?” he asked. “Maybe it’s something fun to play with!”

I knew what it was, and I doubted it’d be much fun for the kid who hates losing so much he declared an end to first Candy Land and then Chutes and Ladders after Boots had the nerve to beat him.

It was a checker set — I can’t remember why or when I’d bought it, though I suspect it was a gag gift undelivered at least two states ago. I let them unwrap it, against my better judgment.

It was one of those times when my better judgment was seriously off. It was a milestone for Big Guy, his first foray into games other than those strictly of chance.

We played for two hours — Big Guy trying, genuinely trying, to learn and Boots content to move my pieces for me.

Big Guy, mostly concentrating without getting so frustrated that I had to duck flying checkers. Big Guy, grasping immediately the power plays of jumping my checkers and being crowned king and trying to grasp the strategy needed to make that happen. Big Guy, finally learning to check the location of opposing forces before deploying his troops. “Nope! You’ll get me there!”

It reminded me of last Christmas, when Big Guy endured untold agony while learning to write his name in time to sign his letter to Santa. When the goal is important, he’ll fight back frustration and learn. And there are few things more important to my hypercompetitive little dude than regaining board-game supremacy.

It’s a beautiful thing that goes way beyond checkers. The wonder of watching the gears turn in that growing brain make me glad someone years ago was deprived of a gag gift.

It also makes me happy that when technology failed Big Guy, he still accepted humans to fill the void.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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