Playing to Win


There really isn’t a lot of variety in our morning routine around here. I get up at 6:50 to start the coffee and begin shaking out the cobwebs. Alaina wanders downstairs around ten after, dressed and ready for the breakfast that’s usually just about ready. I pack her lunch as she eats, prod her upstairs for teeth brushing and off we go for the ten minute drive across town. Once there we take our place in line, she moves to the front seat while we idle, and we play tic tac toe until it’s her turn to disembark and head inside.



If you are thinking that playing six to ten rounds of tic tac toe every morning for the past several months sounds extremely boring you are absolutely correct. There is very little variation in the moves that can be executed and as long as both parties are paying even moderate attention to the game, very rarely is there a winner. It’s a good way to prepare her for the long day of focus and concentration ahead. To remind her to think before she acts.

It also drives her insane, much to my amusement. I always give her the first move and even though she’s realized by now that by marking the center square to begin the match it’s almost impossible for her to lose this isn’t always good enough for her. At least once every morning she tries to mix things up and catch me off guard with an alternate strategy, refusing to believe that the only way to win is to play defensively and hope that your opponent makes an unforced error due to a lapse in observation.

It will be interesting to see if she retains this mindset as we graduate to more advanced strategy games. We’ve started playing some Connect 4 and checkers and I look forward to teaching her chess and backgammon. Whether it’s on one of these boards, an athletic field or life in general, I’ve always preferred a more measured, defensive approach, waiting for an opportunity to counter punch or take advantage of other’s mistakes. More Tyrion Lannister than Jaime.

It hasn’t always worked. There are times when fortune does indeed favor the bold, when a direct snap to a running back and a tight end pass to the quarterback makes a coach look brilliant.

Brilliant because the play was successful. There is a fine line between playing a game conservatively and hoping to win and playing a game trying not to lose, a time to attack and a time to retreat. I’ll teach her as best as I can, but fear that I haven’t always chosen wisely. I think that maybe there have been too many times over the course of my life that I have been content to settle for the tie, that opportunity has occasionally passed by because of hesitance. That once again maybe there are things that I could learn from her.



16 thoughts on “Playing to Win”

  1. some of my best parenting times have been spent in the car running kids around, it’s great to spend time with them whoever you are and whatever you’re doing, glad you’re having fun together #triumphanttales

  2. What a fab dad you are! I bet your daughter will remember those times in the car for many years. Just like i remember singing with my Dad in the car (me – lead, he did the harmonies!) It’s interesting thinking about the winning/losing thing, my son is 3.5yo and he does not like losing. My husband always used to let him win (they race to put their clothes on – making getting ready for pre-school a little quicker!) but i told him that he had to learn to lose gracefully too. He’s still working on it – ha ha! #KCACOLS

  3. I love when I have the opportunity to drive the girls to or from school. It’s a magical time where you can really hear them share and tell good stories. Sounds like you two are making beautiful memories — and that is what this is all about. #kcacols xoxo

    1. there are several days a week when the rides to and from school are the only times that I see her. I need to take advantage

  4. These will be lovely memories! So lovely seeing parents and kids playing games like that too thesedays. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

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