How to Lose to Your Nephew With Grace
Normally I spend the majority of my time on my blog complaining about government, and how it has moved away from the Constitution. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time writing about the Constitution to try to show the perspective of the Founders, since we spend so much time arguing about what they intended.
This morning, I’m going to do something different.
My wife and I had our 11 year old nephew over on Saturday. Whenever he comes over, his expectation is that we will be playing Xbox 24/7. He’s at an age where his world revolves around video games.
And professional wrestling (he’s a big Sting fan).
So we picked him up, and asked him if he wanted to go see a movie. We suggested The Croods, but he said it looked dumb. We then suggested Oz the Great and Powerful (a movie my wife wants to see, being a big fan of the Wizard of Oz). Fortunately Disney was smart enough to realize that there are just some movies you can’t re-make. He didn’t seem to be too keen on that idea, so we went to a restaurant and grabbed something to eat.
During the drive home, he started talking about The Hobbit, followed by The Avengers (his all time favorite movie). I asked him if he had ever seen the movie Thor, one of the prequels to The Avengers. For the record, I’ve always been more of a Batman/Superman/Green Lantern/Flash/Wonder Woman/Justice League kind of guy. I never got much into Marvel Comics as a kid, but I had read some of them.
He answered that he had never seen it, so when we got home, we cued it up on Netflix, but we started having problem after problem with our internet connection, much to my chagrin and frustration. I would get the movie going, then the internet would fail five minutes later.
Eventually, the connection held up and we finished the movie, but he was bored until the very end.
The fight between Loki and Thor.
For all of his love of The Avengers, he didn’t care much for Thor. No love for the God of Thunder.
As soon as it was over, he said in that offhand way that boys have, “I guess we’re not going to have time to play Xbox before you have to take me home.”
While I have no problem playing on the Xbox, I do it quite a bit for an hour or two every night, I don’t want to play it 24/7. I get tired of it, and I have other things that I need to or want to do. I want him to enjoy his time at our house, but I don’t want to always sit in front of the TV or play Xbox constantly (although we have set aside Xbox days). We want him to be able to get out and enjoy other things, like the beach.
I turn on the Xbox and put in Call of Duty 3. My wife doesn’t think I should let him play that game. She doesn’t think it is good for him, whereas I, on the other hand, don’t see the big deal. There’s not a lot of blood, unlike later titles in the franchise. I played Cops & Robbers, and Cowboys & Indians and Army as a child. My friends and I spent a lot of time “shooting each other”, and I didn’t turn out to be a serial killer or a mass murderer. (When I was in the 4th grade, there was a girl who we used to play Wonder Woman and Superboy with during recess. We didn’t get yanked out of school because we were punching imaginary bad guys.)
He had always wanted to play cooperative mode (but few games let you play co-op) because he preferred working as a team. We’ve done that on other games, but I swear that he would kill me more times as a teammate than he would the enemy. I started insisting we play against each other so I could have my revenge. Besides, Call of Duty 3 only allows co-op online, not on the same machine, so we really didn’t have a lot of choice. I told him his day would eventually come and he would start to beat me.
We play capture the flag, and the game runs for 20 minute blocks. It took us 18 minutes to figure out what we were supposed to be doing besides shooting each other.
In the end, he ended up killing me about 3 times as much as I killed him.
And so, the trash talking began.
We moved on to a Baja racing game. The course was about 20 or so minutes in length, and he beat me by a full minute. I play Assassin’s Creed a lot (a game I won’t let him play, because frankly, it’s about murder and has a lot of blood), and was so used to using both sticks on the controller, but that doesn’t work in the Baja game. I had a hard time getting going because the second stick turns the camera angle, so my brain was having a hard time figuring out why I was looking at my truck from the front rather than the back.
Once I got that squared away, he was long gone. He slowed down at one point waiting for me, but I told him to just go for the win. He continued to screw around and I passed him.
There were some points where I couldn’t see the track very well, and, well, let’s just say I hope some of those spectators had good insurance.
He passes me by as leaves me in the dust as I slip and slide my way to the finish line.
So, the trash talking continued, and he said he could probably even beat me at hockey. We’ve played 3 or 4 times, and he’s beaten me at it once, plus a few times on his system.
I like playing hockey, but I could never figure out how to score on NHL 2009. I realize I could probably do better if I spent some time practicing, but, well, practice is boring.
I pop NHL 09 into the Xbox, and away we go. He plays as the San Jose Sharks (his favorite team) while I play as the Detroit Red Wings (one of my favorite teams). Of course, I take the home ice advantage. It’s not like he’s a complete neophyte. He has a Sony Playstation 2 that he uses
It’s my house. I get home ice!
The first period was uneventful as both of us spend most of the time trying to remember what the controls are. He quickly figures out how to body check me and knocks me off the puck or to the ice while I spend most of my time racking up penalties. Fortunately for me, he hasn’t figured out how to score yet (not that I had any advantage there).
Second period starts, and we spend more time trying to figure out the controls, though we are starting to get a grasp of them. He hits me, and hits me and hits me, constantly knocking me off the puck and harassing me (and trash talking the whole time). I think at one point, he questioned my manhood.
About midway through the second period, he knocks one of my defensemen off the puck near my net, and somehow buries the puck in my net, taking a 1-0 lead.
I say somehow, because, by his own admission, he wasn’t sure what he did to score. Regardless, I’m in a 1-0 hole, and even though we are only about halfway through the game, I see my chances of winning slowly slipping away.
Before I go any further, I have to say that if we are playing Call of Duty or any other game, I have no problem losing to him.
But this is hockey! There is a matter of pride, and it’s sports! I get much more competitive, and take losing much harder than I would otherwise. (If we play baseball, you should see some of the wicked curveballs or sliders that I throw at him)
Second period ends, he’s up 1-0.
The third period starts, and all I can hear is him nattering away as he runs over one player after another, but suddenly that trash talking starts to become nervous talk as I am spending most of the time in the attack zone getting shot after shot off at his goalie. I’m yelling as I hit the post or the crossbar. I’m coming closer, and he seems to be getting more and more nervous. He started talking to his goalie about the saves he is making, then he wins the next face-off and rushes down the ice. He gets into his attack zone where I intercept one of his passes, and take off down the ice on a 2 on 1 breakaway. I pass to my teammate who one times it (shoots the puck directly off the pass without stopping and controlling the puck first), blasting it past his goalie on the stick side into the back of his net with five minutes left in the game. He looks at me in shock as I raise my arms to the sky and yell “Score!”.
His trash talking turned to how it was funny that I was taking the game so seriously. Hey, I wasn’t going to lose to the little twerp three times in a row.
Five minutes to go in the game, I managed to tie it up, and we can call it a night with a draw.
He started throwing everything he could at my goalie, including wrap around shots that he has mastered on his Playstation game (he can hit those at about a 95% rate). Fortunately for me, he hasn’t figured out how to do that on my game yet.
Regulation came to an end, and we head to overtime locked up at 1-1.
Overtime comes and goes without anything spectacular, but I think my nephew was getting more nervous. We head to the Shootout, one on one hockey.
Like I said, I haven’t put in much practice because I find practice boring.
We each go through our first three skaters with no success. With my third skater I drive in too deep before shooting, and don’t get much of a shot off. We go to our fourth skater. My nephew misses again, though he got a pretty decent shot off. As my fourth skater comes up, I’m trying desperately in my mind to remember how to aim for specific locations at the goal. I suddenly remember, and as I skate forward, I throw a wrist shot low to the ice.
It rockets through the five-hole (hockey parlance for right between the goalie’s legs) and straight into the back of the net. The red lamp lights and I stand up, arms in the air. “Score!”
I proceed to do my victory dance right in front of my nephew, amidst cat calls from him that I’m being a sore winner. With that, I went to the instant replay and kept playing the game winning goal over and over, taking “snapshots” and saving them, then saving the entire replay so I can show it to him the next time he comes over.
But a sore winner? I think not. A victory celebration from a man who knows that sooner or later, I won’t be able to beat him at all. His time will have come at last. Did I rub it in? Of course I did! We were having fun. He was laughing about it. I didn’t tell him he sucks, or tear down his self esteem. Had he won, he would have been doing the same thing.
As we sort through the end of game stats, we discover that he delivered 73 hits to my team. He claims that the hits was really the only stat he cares about. He didn’t care about the score, only the number of hits. I know that’s how he was trying to console himself after the loss. It also told me he was much more serious about the game than he let on.
We enjoy having my nephew over. My dogs love having him there. Unfortunately, he lives too far away for us to have him over more than a few weekends a year.
At the end of the night, we returned him to his rightful owners, and I gave him a hug and told him that we had a good time. I also told his grandmother about our night and how he kept besting me on the Xbox.
I have to take the opportunities that I have to (metaphorically) put him in his place. It won’t be too long before he is putting me in mine.