It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You hear about it all the time. I knew something seemed off, and I could only remain blissfully ignorant for so long. It’s time that I admit what I most likely knew all along. What no parent wishes for their child, but in my case is certain, my son Danny sucks ass at checkers.
Why, just this morning right after he took his first steps, Danny and I played 22 matches and I wiped the floor with him each game. If I could count the number of times that I yelled “King me!” on my hands, I would, but I don’t have 147 fingers.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, but I assure you, Danny is not just simply letting me humiliate him. In fact, quite the opposite. He has the same confused look in his eyes when he realizes he’s set me up for another triple jump as he does when his mother tries to teach him the ABCs. It’s even more apparent in the way that he foolishly disperses his back row into battle early on, and when he wanders — like a moth to a flame — into one of the many Zorro Traps Daddy set for him on the board.
I’ve done everything I can as a parent to teach him the techniques to be less awful at checkers. I’ve replaced the mobile above his crib with highlighted pages of the checkers rule book. I’ve watched YouTube tutorials with him perched on my lap, when his mother thinks we’re watching Sesame Street. I’ve even read him Millard Hopper’s book Win at Checkers before bed repeatedly! And when little Danny would drift soundly off to sleep, I’d wake him up and we’d play until his fingers pruned from the ridges around the edges of the checkers. But he remains just as apathetic as he is pathetic at the game.
I’m just afraid that my son will never experience the euphoria of soaring from one corner of the board to another as a “Flying King,” commanding the center of the board from his high chair, or witness his plastic soldiers band together in order to avoid Daddy’s double, triple, or dear god, even quadruple jumps.
I suppose I should move on — just get over it. Yet, I dream that maybe one day Danny will walk into my room carrying a checkerboard instead of his blanky, and demand that I come downstairs. And when I take my seat at the table, he’ll proceed to annihilate my ass, and all I’ll be able to do is watch helplessly as he creates a blockade around my last remaining checker and it will be me who looks solemnly down at the board and realizes that any move that I make is a zugzwang.