Handing it Down

Today, I have a very special guest post. After many invitations, my wife, Ms. MMK has agreed to provide a blog post. I think it was easier to get her to marry me.

A little background if I may. My wife and I were set up through mutual friends. For our first date, we agreed to meet at a restaurant in Manhattan. Every time my wife recalls how we met, she jokes that when she walked up to the restaurant I was talking to a homeless woman. “Who knows things might have worked out for you two if I was late?” Ha ha ha.

While I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation with the homeless woman, I do recall what Sara and I talked about. We found that we had some common interests including writing. She did and still does work as a science writer for the National MS Society.

I have great respect for Sara’s writing and editing capabilities. I remember the first time I asked for her opinion and review of something I wrote. It was a cover letter for a job application. We disagreed on nearly everything. Not quite a match made in heaven.

Well, since then, I ask for her opinion and review of everything I write. And I wisely defer to her.

I played about four games of chess with B.R. this weekend. I won all of them. I’m not used to that sensation.
The last man I played chess with was my Dad. He put the “R” in B.R., unfortunately, when he died 25 years ago. My Dad was the kind of smart that you don’t get in books – the kind of smart that thrives in figuring things out, making broken stuff work again. I lost every game except one – that’s when I knew that the brain tumor that had wrapped itself around his spinal cord had gone too far. I remember that moment so clearly because I felt so damn sad.
Fortunately, I’ve lost to B.R. for less painful reasons. Sometimes because I’m not focusing, sometimes because he’s that good. It’s weird to have this connection with him, because it’s not the one I expected to have with my children. You see, I was supposed to have quiet little girls who were awesome in school – goody two shoes, even. Excuse me while I snort with laughter. My two boys – B.R. & S.J.- literally remind me of that comedian who screams out all his jokes. I gesture to them in futility as if I’m turning down a radio, “Turn down the volume!” Sometimes it actually works.
You might be saying at this point, “Chess is a quiet, well-behaved sport. So if your son plays chess, how loud could that be?” Ha! You’ve never played chess with the ultimate chess-trash-talker – that would be B.R. Here’s a snippet.
“So that’s your move, huh…I’ll show you MY move…Take that, Queen! [the queen gets knocked off the table at this point, struck violently by the castle]…You think you got me with your pawn? Well I got YOU with my bishop…ha! You think you’re so smart coming at me with your horse…I’ll show YOU a horse move…..”
It just goes on. And on. And you have to see him in action. My little B.R. – in constant motion even when the ADHD medicine is high in his system – fingers winding up as he decides his next move, taunting me like we’re meeting in cleats on the 50-yard line of the Superdome. Sometimes he gets so wrapped up in it that I have to shout, “B! What’s your move?!”

I didn’t teach him chess – B.R. had one lesson from an ambitious aunt on Larry’s side of the family, and I played my first game with him one week later. He had retained all the rules – quite a feat for an 8-year-old, or for that matter, an any-year-old. He has yet to develop my Dad’s strategizing ways, but he’ll get there, I’m sure.
My connections with my two boys spring up when I least expect them. I like to think as I play with B.R. that my Dad’s expansive and intuitive mind is landing in my son. I’ll take it, even if it comes with a badass mouth.

25 thoughts on “Handing it Down

  1. It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Larry. Chess is a great idea…I wonder if I can teach my son in a year or two. Of course, before I taught him I’d have to remember how.

    I’m glad to hear that B.R. is not lacking in confidence!

  2. We finally meet Mrs. Larry and find out she has a name! It’s nice to meet you, Sara. I loved the post.

    If we ever get to meet in person, our sons could play chess. But my son will be the kid weeping because he can’t micromanage his opponent’s moves.

    Never mind. If we meet in person, let’s go to a water park. Hardly any reason to micromanage there. 🙂

  3. So nice to meet you Sara! I have a 9 year old boy like yours (just ask Larry to fill you in on some of the stories) so I get this, I really truly get your point of view. We have a lot of volume problems too and lots of battle scenes constantly happen, no matter what he’s playing with.
    Great post – welcome to the blogging world 🙂

  4. Super post,Sara. Nice to meet you as well. I had high hopes for the sweet, well-behaved girls like you did. Instead I have three boys that are anything but quiet. If you think things are tough now with the boys…wait. The teen years will knock the wind out of you. 🙂

  5. So glad to finally you Ms.MMK (Sara), loved your post about your son B and how you described your dad. He seems to be a very confident little boy! glad you wrote and thank you Larry for introducing Ms.MMK.

  6. Hi Sara! Welcome to our world and thanks for sharing this beautiful story (and Larry thanks for the intro with the homeless woman incident 😉 I used to play chess with my granddad and enjoyed it a lot. Now, I would like to teach Yianni (he is 5 1/2) but I can’t seem to remember it that well, when would you think would be best to introduce him to the game?

    • Thank you! I guess it depends how much your kid likes to strategize. I’ve found that the ThinkFun games (like Rush Hour) are good for getting that going.

  7. This is so great! Sara must contribute more! I demand it! She is too darn funny! Plus I love seeing her view of your family! Absolutely brilliant!!! Thanks for sharing! I taught my son how to play chess too about 4 months ago. He has very high energy and this game really calms him down because he gets so focused on it! The banter between Sara and your son is hilarious!

  8. Hi Sara,
    I am Patricia, or Patti, or some call me Pat, and I would like to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your article. It brings back so many memories. You see my father was very intelligent. He helped me get through Algebra and Geometry at the university, but my father had a third grade education. He had to work in the cotton fields with his mother and father and was the first one of his brothers who was pulled out of school. He also had sleep apnea and in those days, living in the south, there was no diagnosis for what my father had, at least not one that was looked at in a positive light. So, I can relate to you and your father. My father was alway curious and loved to learn. I have that from him. I love to tinker with technical gadgets. Again I have that from my dad, so I believe that creative gift that was in your father has planted itself into B.R. and that is wonderful.

    You and Larry have two beautiful boys, and I enjoy reading about them. There have been many times when I have worked through something from my own childhood by reading this blog.

    Thank you for sharing with us about the chess game. It is a pleasure to hear that you and B.R. share this valuable and priceless experience together.


  9. Thank you so much for sharing, Pat – I think it’s beautiful that your father was able to share his capabilities with you by helping you with your studies and by ‘handing it down’ to you. It really is a blessing to know someone whose mind can ‘fly’ like that. Thank you.

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