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.
That Monday, I was supposed to feel smart. After all, I had managed to get a piece published. My cousin had called to hire me to write on a grant. Then my ten year old son asked me to play Stratego, and he schooled me.
I didn’t get even close. I found every one of his bombs. Twice. 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 the 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 time 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. No. “Scrabble?” Nyet. “Go Fish?” He shook his head.
The phone rang. Desperate for a reprieve from another beating, I pounced on the receiver. “Hey Honey, I saw your piece. 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!” I let them finish talking and set up my board.
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 faints and defenses, strategic losses and the effective use of the spy later, I still lost.
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 put away his game board and disappeared for a while. Just when I was starting to feel perky again, my son returned with a new game board under his harm. “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.
Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti