NEVER BET AGAINST BLACK
For the past two weeks, I’d been hyping up the Super Bowl to my daughter.
I told her how it was a magical day filled with all-you-can-eat ribs, baked beans, and more creamed corn than she could ever envision. Naturally, as she always does these days, she looked at me like I was crazy and went back to playing with her stuffed porcupine (affectionately named “Porky.”)
This past Sunday, I asked her who she wanted to win the big game. Without flinching, she turned to me and said, “Barack Obama!”
I told this story to a friend of mine this week who happens to be not only a dyed-in-the-wool NYC liberal Democrat but also a major fundraiser for Barack Obama.
She also happens to have a daughter around the same age as the Peanut.
Prior to the election, my friend was elated to hear her little daughter staunchly declaring her devotion to Barack Obama. Between home and school, everyone she knew was endorsing Obama. How could she NOT be influenced by those whom she loved?
However, after one specific conversation with her little girl, my friend realized that her daughter’s devotion to Obama was the result of more nefarious influences. She told me that, shortly thereafter, she found herself at her daughter’s pre-school declaring, “Ok, I’m not mad but I just want to know. Which one of you teachers told my daughter that if McCain is elected, he’s canceling Christmas?”
Naturally, I’ve now begun making up bedtime stories about how the NY Yankees are scary monsters who hide under the bed and make little girls eat vegetables until they throw up.
COOKIES ARE FOR CLOSERS!
When my daughter and I first started playing Candyland together, my natural paternal instincts were to let her win. I’d selectively shuffle the cards and purposely tank games just to see her overwhelmed by happiness. After each win, she’d jump up and down for joy, give me a giant hug, and then very earnestly shake my hand while saying, “Good game, Daddy.”
Then I realized that I wasn’t doing her any favors by letting her win. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and it was my job to help indoctrinate her into that harsh reality.
Now, some seriously humorless individuals have criticized Candyland as a moronic game of chance, arguing that the message of the game teaches children that they are powerless, that destiny is determined by pure luck, that the only chance you have of winning lies in following the rules, and accepting the cards as they come.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we’ve found our nominee for “Sourpuss Dad of the Year.”
Are you fucking kidding me? I started playing Candyland with my daughter when she turned three. Why? Not because she couldn’t understand the rules of chess but BECAUSE SHE WAS FUCKING THREE!
I wholly side with Tom Armitage who writes, “Candyland is a great first game; literally, the very first. It teaches turn-taking. It teaches the mores, the manners, and the culture of playing boardgames. I’m totally fine with the idea of a game to teach you how to play games. After all, there are loads of games that teach you all manner of things; what’s wrong with the ideal of the first one teaching you about the medium itself?”
I couldn't agree more with that sentiment.
Anyway, yesterday afternoon, the Peanut and I had a marathon battle of Candyland. She won the first game, jumped up for joy, and yelled, “Ha ha, Daddy. I won!”
I was pretty peeved about her being a bad winner so naturally I decided to take this opportunity to impart one of my infamous parenting life lessons.
I stacked the cards in my favor and beat the Peanut in 5 straight games of Candyland. I made sure the games weren’t even close. I crushed her. After every victory, I did a touchdown celebration dance, started singing “We Are The Champions,” and gave mini-speeches praising the almighty Jesus for allowing me to be such a kick-ass Candyland player.
Proud of myself for demonstrating to my daughter how NOT to act in the face of victory, I turned to look at her to ensure that she was comprehending the full extent of the lesson.
What I saw was a little girl on the verge of tears. Her lip was quivering and she had the saddest look on her adorable face. Needless to say, my daughter’s tears are my personal kryptonite.
I immediately pulled her close to me and tightly hugged her in a warm embrace. I told her I was sorry that I acted like a jackass and that I was only trying to teach her a lesson about being a gracious winner. I also apologized for going a little overboard and told her how truly badly I felt. Was there anything I could do to cheer her up?
“Sure, Daddy. How about some cookies?”
Hmm…sometimes I wonder who’s playing whom.