Scrabble for the Win

Ah, game night. That lovely experience where someone by the end of the night inevitably throws the game board in the air, scattering all the pieces all over the living room. You may play yours differently, but that’s how we always played when I was growing up. Game night looks a little different in our household now. You have to let Collier win, or at least try to let him win.  

We have a ton of board games – Collier loves them. We have the classics like Twister, Connect Four, and Shoots and Ladders, and some that are focused on working on his dexterity, like Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. Some of our relatives can attest to this, since that’s what we tell them he wants for Christmas and birthdays. Recently he got Scrabble, and we played it for the first time the other night. Let him win?

I won. That’s right! I WON! In your face, Collier! Wait, what’d you expect? I’m an English teacher and an old Words With Friends junkie. Still, it was a great night.

Why was it a great night? Well, there were a number of reasons, and none of them revolve around me winning. I was the winner numerically, but we all won because Collier played. You see, for years, as we have been playing all of these games, Collier usually takes help. By that, I mean that either Amye or I always sneak around to his side when it’s his turn and help him play the best card in Uno, or advise him on what noodle to pull out in Yeti In My Spaghetti. Not so with Scabble night. He wanted to do it all on his own.

I even got up once to go to the bathroom and he shielded my view of his tiles. He wanted to play the right way, and he actually did really well. Amye and I both beat him, but at the end of the game Collier walked away with 84 points. That’s not bad considering that he’s been in speech therapy of some kind since I can remember, and still reads on a lower level than most of the kids his age.

There was a point near the end of the game where he said, “I give up,” but to be fair, so did Amye. I was the only one determined to see the game all the way to the end. To officially end the game, you have to run out of tiles or every player has to pass twice. The first time he had to pass, he thought the game was over. And to add to that, the game was already running longer than previous games we normally play.

You may be saying to yourself, “I get it, Brian, you smoked your thirteen-year-old son in Scrabble, so now you’re getting ready to write the next Great American novel. Shut up, already.” But here’s the thing – that’s not the half of it. You don’t realize some real positives that came out of this. Yes, I can see word connections better than my son who’s on the autism spectrum. Fine.  Normally, though, we let him win to avoid a scene where he’s distraught, or we have to talk to him about having good sportsmanship, congratulating the winner rather than sulking over defeat, that kind of thing — but there was none of that with Scabble night.

He played the game to the best of his ability, and he was competitive at a game that was not just dumb luck like Shoots and Ladders, and he did respectable, and had the right kind of attitude at the end of it. We all had a good time as a family on family game night. Isn’t that the point?

Collier used his critical thinking skills to look at a game board, and he had to think about his words and spelling, which letters words ended with, how they would connect to the game board, all that stuff. In the end, he did a great job. He played a game that he didn’t win, and he congratulated the winner. He was a good sport.

I think we could all use a little of that. Now that I know he doesn’t need help, he better watch out.

I’m really gonna drill him next time. No mercy!


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