Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Art of War

Enjoying a little down time here over the holidays, including spending some quality hours with my four-and-a-half-year-old nephew as I mentioned I would be doing last post.

He and I did manage to get in a few rounds’ worth of “War” when he wasn’t busy playing Skylanders. He mastered the rules for “War” very quickly, including sorting out how the face cards rank and how jokers were wild. He’s also figured out how to save out an ace or joker for himself to use at key moments, such as when “battles” arise, being very creative in the way he’ll innocently slide the card out from under the pile.

We laugh about his not-quite-allowed-within-the-rules strategy of choosing cards to play, both acknowledging it fully. It’s interesting, actually, to observe how besides being pretty quick to understand games, he’s competitive, too, wanting to win but seemingly a good sport when losing. A little later we played Tic-Tac-Toe on a stocking stuffer wooden game and I couldn’t help but laugh when he left me an opening to beat him once, then shot a hand down over the spot where I was about to make my last move.

Those who are parents know a lot more than I do about how this process of learning games works with children, including the usual milestones of understanding how to play them, what winning and losing is, and eventually what it means to play by the rules and the importance of doing so. My understanding is my nephew is still probably a year or two away from reaching that last stage, as that doesn’t necessarily come (for most) until kids get to be primary school age.

Was kind of marveling, though, at how the moment he noticed he’d left me that opening to make three across he slapped the hand down -- entirely instinctive, that, and something we adults can identify with whenever we make a mistake and think initially of trying to correct it.

I’m thinking it won’t be that long before my nephew and I start talking about poker hands and how three of a kind beats two pair. Then after that we’ll get out the chips, too. That’s when I’ll definitely have to watch out to make sure he doesn’t keep an ace or joker hidden in his tiny sleeve.

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