Parenting chess

August 13, 2012

in Parenting, Reed, Tessa

“But mo-oooooo-mmmmm,” (Reed’s exasperation results in superfluous syllables), “Weeding will take forEVER!”

“It’ll take only 20 minutes.”

“Twenty minutes?? That’s forEVER!” whines my son.

“Really? Twenty minutes is a long time?” I query.

“Ye-eeee-sss!” (three syllables), “It’s waaay too long!”

“Twenty minutes is a really really long time?” I press.

“Ye-eeee-ssss! It’s a freaking long time!! “(I’ve pushed him to the limit and he’s used the dreaded but occasionally tolerated small-f-word.)


“Soooooo…I’m gonna be really generous with you, then. As a reward for weeding for 20 looooooong minutes,  tonight you’re also gonna get 20 minutes on the Wii — an eternity!”

“Mo-ooo-mmmmmm…that’s not fair!!”


“Tessa, those shorts are too short.”

“They’re not, mom.”

“They don’t meet the school’s test. Even though it’s summer and you’re not in school, the shorts still need to fall lower than your fingertips.”

“See?” She tugs on the shorts, dragging the crotch way down as she hikes her shoulders up to her ears. Her fingertips are now 6 inches above the bottom of her shorts. “They’re longer than my fingers.”

“That’s cheating.”

“Mo-oooooo-mmmmm!” my daughter, too, is a syllable multiplier. “All the other girls wear shorts like this!”

“All the other girls don’t have me as a mom.”

“I’m wearing them and you can’t stop me.” Her lower jaw juts.

Gambit: “You’re right. I will not tackle you and take off those shorts today.”

She pauses to think, her jaw retracting.

“Is this where you tell me I can win the battle but I’ll lose the war?”



“And I’ll never see the shorts again if I wear them today?”


“You’re mean!”


Don’t mess with the Queen.

Image: Salvatore Vuono at

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Daria @ Mom in Management August 13, 2012 at 8:01 am

Love it! I am going to have to keep these moves in my back pocket. I’m sure it’s one of the classic Chess games that are recorded, right? :)


meghann August 13, 2012 at 9:43 am

Awesome. I am hanging on to these to call up in another 10 years or so… xo


Justine August 13, 2012 at 11:29 am

Heh. You should tell your son I spent an HOUR AND A HALF weeding our garden yesterday. He got off easy. ;)

I hope you’re keeping long-term score?


April August 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Fantastic! I love how Tessa caught on.


LisaAnne August 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Tee hee hee. One of the small privileges of being the grown up. We get to make the rules.


Esperanza August 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Love these teachable moments. Thank you for sharing. ;)


a August 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Nice moves, Queen! I especially like the relativity of time…

My 15 year old niece is wearing those 1″ inseam shorts. It’s fine – she’s got the body type that they suit…but I distinctly remember her mother being scandalized when I was wearing shorts of that length when I was her age. So I laugh and laugh at how things change. So far, my girl seems to prefer to wear modest clothing. I’m going to hope that keeps up.


shannon August 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

very smart! love your approach :)


St. E August 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I guess I should start taking tips already…

BTW, 20 minutes is such a relative time. Doing something unpleasant makes 20 minutes so long, and watching a show on TV makes 20 minutes so short…


Lavender Luz August 14, 2012 at 8:29 am

I almost titled the post “Because he doesn’t yet know the Theory of Relativity.”


Mud Hut Mama August 14, 2012 at 1:03 am

I absolutely love it! Need to remember these.


Nicole August 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Hee hee. Love this post. 20 minutes is a looooooooooooooong time.


geochick August 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

the shorts story is hilarious!


Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck August 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I’ve never played chess. But somehow after reading this, I feel like maybe I have. :)


jenny - sugar loco August 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Oh you’re such a smart woman!! You need to be writing a parenting chess rule book.


Seriously?! August 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm



Tammy and Parker August 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Loved this! Thanks for sharing! :D


Kathy August 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Awesome! Yet another reason I love that your children are a bit older than mine… I get to read posts like this and learn from your wisdom and experience. I will surely be using the 20 mins. trade-off soon and will keep the clothing example in mind for the future. I already do it with reading vs. electronics, but look forward to trying it with other things, such as chores. :)


Catherine August 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I love it when mt patience pays off during a disagreement with my daughter and she hands me the win.


Emily @ablanket2keep August 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm

OMG! that. was. awesome!


luna August 15, 2012 at 11:52 pm

so clever, you are.


Sarah@afterhood January 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm

And then they get a little bit older, and sometimes the tables turn… Like the time The Girl said to me, “Mom, if you want me to, I can come with you the next time you buy new glasses.” Ouch – be gentle with me!


Mrs. Tucker January 17, 2013 at 10:49 am

While my son is grown, this brought back great memories!


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