I kicked my daughter’s ass today. Not literally of course. Even if I were ever to be so bold as to write a post about spanking her, I probably wouldn’t open with that line. No, today I kicked her ass at pop-a-shot basketball and just to be sure that she had learned her lesson, I kicked her ass at skee-ball.
It wasn’t my first intention, not the purpose of our trip to the entertainment complex. These games are usually a collaborative effort, our goal the accumulation of a few thousand tickets to trade in for a plastic spider ring or a super bouncy ball. Very rarely do we go head to head in games of skill, and when we do I usually let her win, or at least tie. My goal for her has always been to make sure that she is putting in maximum effort and to encourage practice as a means of improvement. As long as she is having fun and those two things are being done, winning can remain a secondary objective for now.
I’m not sure that she would agree. She’s always been hyper competitive, but it’s usually a cute thing, more of a motivation to herself to improve. In anticipation of a birthday party held at a gymnastics center this morning, she spent the week crashing around the house practicing cartwheels. The place we were at today was found while looking for somewhere less crowded to practice her roller skating in between parties.
Today that spirit that I love took an unexpected turn, a game of mini-golf turned ugly. Those who have spent time with me out on the links know that I can be inclined to be generous with my mulligans and gimme putts. That sometimes my scoring can be “creative” and that the “foot wedge” is an important tool in my arsenal. They will also tell you that what I don’t do is talk a lot of trash.
Not that I can’t. When the time is right and I’m able to back up my words with performance I can sling trash talk with the best of them. There is just an unfortunate lack of times when this is applicable.
Today my daughter talked a lot of trash. She mocked misses, danced around when her ball hit the bottom of the cup, and apparently was completely oblivious to the fact that had we a scorecard she would have been about thirty shots behind after nine holes. She was completely obnoxious and frankly, a very unpleasant playing partner.
So I taught her a lesson in humility. It’s probably not a technique that would be covered in a parenting manual, but one that seemed effective. There was a line that any reasonable person would recognize and not long after crossing it I stopped. The day ended with what I thought was a very productive conversation over pizza and root beer about sportsmanship, other people’s feelings, and the importance of not acting like an asshole. I think that she got the message.
I’m not going to gloat, but I’m calling this a parenting win.