THE QUEEN OF TWEEN AND THE FUTURE GRAND MASTER
I can’t put my finger on the exact moment, but somewhere in the middle of second grade, Tigger went from a little girl to… something else. I can’t call her a pre-teen, because in my mind that’s the 11-12, too-old-for-toys-too-young-for-boys era. Marketing demographers call the 8-12 cohort “tweens.” They even have their own stores now (Limited Too, for example, and Club Libby Lu). Now 8.5, Tigger has embraced tweenitude with great enthusiasm.
Case in point: she has discovered the power of the telephone. Tigger has a best-friend-forever, I’ll call her Lulu. Lulu calls Tigger so often that I no longer bother answering the phone. It’s not for me. Tigger has been known to wake up early on weekend mornings and ask how long she has to wait before she can call Lulu. Once she gets on the phone, she disappears into the tween vortex.
When I was a kid, talking on the phone meant sitting in one spot, tethered to the wall. It was a major thrill and great privilege when I got a phone installed in my bedroom, so I could be tethered to my own wall. Tigger has no such restraints. She grabs the cordless handset and carries it to her room, where she boots up her favorite web site and she and Lulu play the games together in their separate locations.
Then there’s the music. No more kiddie tunes for this young chick. She’s rocking out to the Cheetah Girls. (I don’t know who the Cheetah Girls are, but Tigger assures me they are way cool.) I’m happy to say she’s absorbed some of my tastes… her favorite mix disc includes Aretha Franklin demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Meanwhile, Little Bit continues her mathematical obsessions. Jealous of Tigger’s homework, yesterday Little Bit brought me a pile of blank paper and a pencil and asked me to write some math problems for her. On the first page I put 12 addition problems with sums less than 10. 4.5 seconds later she handed it back to me completed and asked for something more challenging. The page of 30 problems with sums to 20 took all of 5 minutes.
I don’t know what sparked this today, but it was inevitable: Little Bit came home from preschool and asked me to teach her to play chess.
I like chess all right, but I’m not very good at it. It’s a spatial game and that’s just not my forte. When I taught Tigger to play a few years ago, she immediately turned the game into what I can only call “girl chess.” The king and queen had a big wedding, the bishops ran off to ride on the knights, and the pawns had a dance party.
But Little Bit is all business. I started by explaining how all the pieces are allowed to move. She listened intently and understood everything except for the movement pattern of the knights. That’s pretty tricky. Then she played a whole game with me, without ever causing the pieces to become friends or placing Kleenex blankets over them when they got captured and went to sleep.
The alarming thing is that our school has a crackerjack chess team, with a whole case full of trophies. The chess kids’ lives (and therefore, their parents’ lives) revolve around local, state, and national chess tournaments. Am I going to become a Chess Mom?
I’ll tell you this… if she keeps playing, she’ll be kicking my butt before she gets to Kindergarten, for sure.