By Joe Rector

I took my grandson Madden back home the other day. He’d come to our house during Memorial Day and stayed a while after his parents went back to Nashville and to work. Any time with the boy is pure gold, even if I’m weary by the time he leaves. During this trip he also managed to humiliate his grandfather a few times.

We’ve enjoyed playing putt-putt in the last couple of years. The first time we went, Madden didn’t make it out of the parking lot. He “lost his lunch” right there, and we high-tailed it back to the house. Since then, he’s not experienced any sickness; on the other hand, I’ve not felt so hot since the boy beats my brains out every time we play. Oh, I know guys with whom I play golf will say they aren’t surprised that Madden beats me; they’ve watched me putt. But seriously, why can’t I compete with an eight-year-old?

To make matters worse, the boy has taken to trash talking. He’s laid it on thick and takes every opportunity to count the multiple strokes I take before finding the hole. Then Madden lets me know what the score is and informs me that I am terrible as he skips to the next hole. I hate to admit that sometimes I’d like to whack the little guy, but that wouldn’t present a good example, would it?

I’ve never liked board games, nor have I cared to play cards. Madden loves them. I sat down with him and his parents for a couple of games. He didn’t win this time, but on many previous occasions, he’s yelled “Uno” and slapped down his last card. Sometimes he hops from his chair to perform his own version of an end-zone dance. I sit with an exasperated look on my face and count the points I’ve just accumulated in the losing hand.

One afternoon after swimming until we were water-logged, Madden asked if I’d play a game of chess with him. It’s been years since I played the game, so I asked him to refresh my memory of the rules and we began battle. I’m not so sure he accurately explained the moves each piece could make; however, I studied the board before making a decision as to where my men should go next. Madden sat patiently and waited for me to move. As soon as I did, he grabbed his man and put him in a new position. All I could think of was how rotten I’d feel if I lost to an 8 year-old. In fact, I worried so much that I failed to pay attention to the entire board. I moved a bishop out of the sites of his queen, and next I slid my king to a new and safer position. My bishop proved to be in danger again, so I moved him. When I took my hand from the piece, Madden’s eyes brightened, and a smile crossed his face. Then he took a lowly pawn and captured my king.

I refused to take another beating but wanted a rematch the last evening he was at our house. He had moved on to other interests, so we never played again. I plan to study up a bit on the game and demand another chance when we visit him the next time.

Over the visit, Madden beat my brains out in several contests. I managed to save a bit of face by beating him in bowling, but hey, how big of a feat is that? A grown man defeats a small boy in bowling, and even then the margin of victory was razor thin. He told me he’d rolled a weak game because his usual score was about 20 pins higher. I suppose I need to just admit that my time has come and gone. The boy has whipped me and made me like it. Well, nah, I don’t like it, but I can do nothing about it. At least the boy feels good about himself. I, on the other hand, don’t plan on many more competitive events with my grandson. My ego can’t take the outcomes.