You’d think the library couldn’t surprise me anymore. After being on the library board for a few years, watching my son grow up through puppet-time and story time there, and visiting every few weeks for books, that just doesn’t leave a lot of room for surprise.
But yesterday we went, and I was astonished. In a good way.
A few days ago, A friend of my son’s invited us to play Chess at the library. What a beautiful idea, we both thought. It’s quiet, there will be a time limit, the meet is at a neutral place, and Chess is a game my son’s been learning – and loving, and of course researching – over the past month. As a side effect, I even know what “en passant” and “j’adoube” mean (see below). Which is part of what I love about Asperger’s Syndrome.
It was fantastic. Better than I could have dreamed possible.
Turns out there’s an actual Chess Club that meets every Wednesday at the library. They even book a separate room, provide boards and pieces, and let loose several adult members who walk around, helping the kids out. Oh, yes, did I mention that it was also a Chess class? For kids of all ages? And costs nothing but time?
Through the magic that kids have, my son and his friend linked up with two other boys about the same age. The four of them claimed a table together, talking the entire time.
Then the main instructor stood up and went over some basic rules and manners for Chess, which I heartily approve of. A handshake was required after every match, with a “good game” attached. As it was not football they were playing, the instructor stated drily, there would be no victory dances.
Every parent loves it when teachers address manners. Courtesy is the glue that holds the fabric of our society together. Otherwise we’d still be barbarians grunting at one another over the fire as we wrestled for bits of charred meat. And kids, it seems, are too willing to fall into that at times.
There must have been thirty people there. Really. Including tiny little kids. All of them lined up and playing Chess. At times, you could hear a pin drop. The other mothers and I were astounded; we’ve seen so many organized events fall into chaos and noise. But the children were completely wrapped up in their respective games.
My son proceeded to trounce his friend; however, the instructor stepped in and taught the boys a few things. At first, my son jokingly protested, saying that he had his friend where he wanted him. After a few interruptions, he began to get a little annoyed at being cheated of a victory, but managed to keep calm. Good for him! All the same, I admire the instructor’s mindset. It’s about thinking long-term to teach people, avoid hurt feelings, and improve play so that both can appreciate and enjoy the game more. Both kids – all the kids there, actually – kept their cool and had a great time.
Later, in the car, we were able to go over what was up with the instructor, and why it was not so terrible that he was helping the other boys out a little.
Often, we’ll put our son in the position of the person he doesn’t understand. Actually ask him to close his eyes and pretend that he’s the instructor, and he’s facing the situation that he was just in. And usually the point will come across loud and clear; our son will concede, and admit that he’d have made the same decision.
As for us, we’ve added another social event to our week. Hooray! And yes, we’ll definitely be back next week. And the week after. And the week after that.
Note: En Passant means “in passing,” and refers to a specific way of taking a pawn as it moves. J’adoube means “to adjust,” and is said when touching a piece you don’t intend to move. Apologies if these terms are not exact… I’m not really a Chess player at all, just a Chess watcher. 🙂