Wednesday, July 9, 2008


We're working hard on the boy book these days. This week is the chapter on competition, and in it the doc talks about what the deal is with boys and competition. Why do they compete over everything all the time? Why is playing games such a nightmare? Why do they cheat?

Of course, the G-man provided inspiration for some of this. But I see now that Sammie the bamster is pretty competitive, too. Her need to win is tempered by other things, such as getting along with the other players and being very nurturing to them. When we play a game, she often likes her stuffed doggies to help. This means holding them up and talking baby talk for them in a squeaky high voice. The dogs themselves have plenty of questions about how to play. The dogs are easily confused, you see, and they make a lot of baby talk complaints about how hard it is to wait your turn. And she patiently answers all these questions in her own voice and coaches them through the game. Rarely does she get annoyed with them when they ask too many questions (unlike a real parent) but she does allow herself the occasional weary sigh as if to suggest that being a mommy isn't just fun and games. I nod to her in agreement. Kids, what can you do? (Larry says she's crazy, but I say to him: this is girlhood; suck it up).

But when it comes to winning, well here she doesn't mind dropping the gloves. Zingo is her favorite game these days and it's a kind of bingo game with pictures instead of letters. Best thing about it is the little pez-like dispenser that spits out two tiles at a time and then you match the icons with those on your card. A round is over in two or three minutes and because it spits out two tiles at once, there's no turn-taking. Brilliant. The idea is that you have to know the images on the card and then grab the tile that matches one on your card before the other player. We don't do that. I give her first dibs on everything. Why not?

Still, she takes great pride in beating me. Great pride. She counts how many tiles she has left after every turn and shouts "I'm winning, I'm winning!" Once, I accidentally had more tiles than she did during the game (miscalculation on my part). She counted up the tiles for both of us, looked at me for a long moment, horrified, and then said, "Well, I think I'm still winning."

She has never lost this game. Never. And yet she cheers for herself every time she wins as though stunned by her great fortune. She pumps both fists into the air and jumps to her feet, shouting "Zingo!" It's true joy. I tell her how great it is. Then she turns right back to the game, very business-like, and says, "Okay, you have to win, too." That means we're going to keep playing this round until my card is filled up, too. And when it is, she throws fists into the air again (and I'm expected to do this, too) and together we shout, "Zingo!"

That's the girl style of play. I'm going to nurture my doggies while kicking your ass, and then we're all going to be happy and celebrate together. Or else.

1 comment:

Grace T said...

I like your observations about the differences between boy and girl play. It's so interesting to see how differently they are socialized, but also, how different they just are.

This game sounds good. I was in need of some kiddie birthday gifts so thanks for the heads up.