Essay: Playing to Win

Nov 8, 2019

My husband and I are playing Monopoly with our granddaughter, Emmy.   She’s eleven years old and loves the game, although she rarely wins.   

“I’ll buy it,” she says no matter where she lands and she’ll spend her last dollar on houses and hotels in anticipation of fabulous returns.  Her grandfather and I, on the other hand, are more cautious players.  He carefully considers each purchase and counts out his money as if it were real.

“Grampa,” Emmy says, “I’ll trade you one of these for one of those—and then we’ll each have a monopoly!”  She grins so engagingly that I cannot imagine him refusing.  But he does.  Over and over, in fact, he politely declines her most impassioned offers, saying, “I think I’ll keep what I have.”

As I sit here watching this all unfold, I realize that my goals and my husband’s are very different.  He is playing to win.  I am playing to make it fun for Emmy.  And I wonder if this is why men rule the world? 

But while I am pondering this, Emmy has somehow acquired a major monopoly—and soon Grampa is bankrupt and then me.

When Emmy wins, I cheer as loudly as she does.