My daughter recently competed in her first chess tournament. I was more nervous than she was.
She’s only 5, and I worried about sportsmanship, I worried about whether she would have fun. I worried about whether she would get bored, or scared.
She was just excited that she would get to play chess: Five games of chess – with other kids.
She wanted one of those trophies.
So we got up at the butt-crack of too early to get up on a Saturday morning, and still had to run to school to get there in time to check-in, because, of course, late check-in means forfeiting the first game.
So, we get all checked in, and wait. Why is it that the big days in life seem to involve so much waiting?
Finally, we got the pairings, and the judge for the Kindergarten tournament introduced himself, recapped the rules, reminded the little ones about sportsmanship,
ushered all the parents out of the room.
So we sat on the floor in the hallway, we parents of the 25 kindergarteners duking it out across chessboards in that classroom. The door to the classroom had a thin window, and the parents rotated throughout the game play, taking turns peeking through the window trying to get a glimpse of what was going on in our child’s game.
More and more, as she gets older, her important events will take place outside of my control. I can lead her up to the door, but she has to take it from there.
I don’t think they’ll let me in the room when she takes her SATs either.
I’ve said it before, and I still believe that parenthood seems to be one big, long, excruciating yet joyous exercise in letting go.
And the chess tournament? That went very well. The kids were all well behaved, and gracious winners and losers. As a whole, they seemed to be pretty good at getting their pieces into the middle of the board, but only a few of them were closing the deal. There were a lot of stalemates.
Gem had one draw, lost 3, and then because there were an odd number of kids, there was a bye every round. Gem got a bye on the fourth round. She was more disappointed about not getting to play that game than any of her losses.
But in the end, since this was kindergarten, she did get her trophy, along with all the other kids.
And she still loves playing chess.