My husband, son and I are playing Rummikub. This is a game that I especially loved as a child and one that my husband is fond of as well. We are equally matched players, although I have a tendency to re-arrange all the tiles on the board more frequently than he does.
We taught this game to our son a few years ago, and he has played it off and on, but in the last few months he has come to appreciate the strategy of the game and he wants to beat us so badly. We play a few rounds, and then he wins. He is elated, he is overjoyed, he wants to play again.
Later on, my husband asks if I let him win. I did not. That makes my husband smile.
I am a great observer of the way my husband and son play. I do not understand it, to be sure, but I watch. And I read studies like this one pointing out that the challenging play that Fathers engage in can have lasting benefits for their children. Play during the younger years focuses around risks and accepting chances; play in the later teen years can lead to a sense of accomplishment - but only if Dad never lets his children win.
So, yes, my son earned that victory over his parents in Rummikub, just like he earns his victories in all the games we play together. I always thought that letting him lose would help him learn how to deal with failure and some sense of resilience to try again, but I see now how it can also lead to great pride when he finally kicks our butts.
What games do your children try to beat you at? Tell me in the comments.