Last October A,my eldest daughter,joined the local chess club.Not without an initial hesitation because it meant the possibility of socializing with people she wouldn’t know. I pushed her to do it thinking it was a good way to boost her self confidence and social skills.Her school teacher pushed her as well as she thinks she is good at it and it is a way to improve her concentration. Four months passed and she loves it.Chess club is on every Tuesday from 7pm to 8.15pm.I only have to drop her off and collect her.That,was what I thought until I made a frightening discovery:the existence of the parents supervision rota.I should have known there was something behind.May be, I shouldn’t have pushed her to join in.After all,she can be all right even without developing good social skills.The father never did and still managed to get quite successful.I suppose now it is too late any way,we can’t go back:once a month I have to supervise at the junior chess club!
Tonight is my first time on supervision duty.I can’t deny I was quite nervous about it.So nervous
that we were there early.First time ever!The way it works is that every Tuesday there is an organizer in charge and two parents as sacrificial victims of the week for the dirty work.Yes, you do actual work.You don’t just sit there watching the kids play and making sure nobody gets hurt.
The organizer/coordinator of the evening was Miss G.Soon after me Mrs I arrived, the other sacrificial parent .She was nice,”pew..”…by experience there is nothing worst then being paired for some activity with someone you can’t stand.By her name and her accent it was obvious she was not Iirish.She is Russian and,of course, she plays chess.It was immediately clear that she couldn’t be of any emotional comfort to me.She knows well what is going on in there and she is soon gone floating around the players dispensing useful advise.I still like her and I am grateful she is there. I am also grateful she doesn’t have one of those extremely long pair of legs all Russian models seems to have on the magazines..that would have been more intimidating then her chess knowledge.
Miss G,eventually approached me and handled me a pile of sheets to be filled.I managed to go through the attendance sheet no problem.Once we have checked who is there and who is not,she escorted me to a board where all the matches of the previous week and the scores are written.To me is Arabic but she makes her best to briefly explain that what I am supposed to do is check who missed their game last week and if they are here tonight I simply must pair them and make them play the missed game.”And if they are not here?”,I thought it was a reasonable question. She checked her phone and reassured me they should all be there because in the chess club what’s up group there was no texts communicating they were not coming.”Mmm,”I think,”lets hope they are not all like me that the two times A didn’t go I didn’t text”.
Off she sent me to pair the supposed players from last week.With huge relive, I now know that I am not the only unmannerly parent.There was at least five absent that didn’t text to warn the club.I went back to report for duty to Miss G.Three of the mismatched players had obvious good social resources and find themselves a partner to play a friendly game with.The other two were unactive.Miss G said to wait,someone might still come late.I didn’t have much confident on that:”Hello,…wake up,they just forgot to text or coudn’t bother less.Face it”.
New task,record the score.After 10 minutes that I was trying to get my head around the points system and the codes the player were called by,and why it is so important to specify who played white and who played black.Mrs I came to me asking if I wanted her to do it.”yessss”.I happily passed her the score sheet and went to miss G to ask some technical questions.As I will have to be here once a month,I better learn something,right?Not a chance: “oh,I wouldn’t know,I don’t play chess”,Miss G replays. A wave of emotions hit me:was I in distress because I thought this woman could really teach me something and avoid me to feel so inadequate next time? Or was I simply happy because she is just as ignorant as I am? While I was still trying to find an answer to my internal dilemma,I noticed that two of the players are still with no partner.They are standing there like little pretty statues. No need to be a genius to understand they would clearly prefer to stand there watching all evening rather then attempting a social interaction and ask each other for a friendly game.
Did I mention one of the two little pretty statues was my daughter?!I took the initiative to pair the two of them for a friendly match.Just a little push and,from there they kept playing with whatever player was available for the rest of the time they had left.
Now I know why she likes chess club night.On the contrary of what I thought,it does not require to socialize if you don’t want to.I can clearly see her routine:She plays with whoever she is paired,(in holy sacred silence),she shakes hands when the game is over,(rigorously with no show of emotions weather she wins or loose),she goes to report her score waiting to be repaired or just watching the others playing,(silently and still).
At the end of the evening,it was an experience.An inside in the “wild world of the chess”.Now I now what to expect next time.
We are driving home,CG (my youngest one,who was there waiting for me and her sister)bored to death ;A satisfied she won 3 matches out of four and always against boys;me just dreaming to eventually crash on my sofa.
The chess are totally out of my mind.The little dog is on my lap and the giant dog is on my side.Only concern running through my mind is what to pick between an herbal tea and a whiskey to drink ;between Janis Joplin and Patti Smith to listen and get lost in whatever imaginary world they want to bring me.
In case you wonder,the junior chess club is run at the local pub,followed by the adult poker night……..this is Ireland😉