There are few things more ignominious than defeat at the hands of a 7-year-old. And here I'm not talking about pretending to be bowled out in cricket or letting them win at Scrabble. I'm talking about ACTUAL defeat where you're trying your valiant best but come to the heart-breaking realisation that you're seriously not going to win this game of chess. She's got you on the ropes and aside from resorting to infantile methods to remedy the situation (i.e. upending the board with feigned alarm, diverting her attention while reinstating your Queen, or convincing her that Rooks actually can move diagonally) you're going to have to fall on your sword.
This, however, is almost impossible. I stall, I perseverate, I pontificate, but she's onto me. "Just make a move," she says in her mini wise monkey voice. “Don't rush me, kid! There's dignity at stake here.” That's what I'm thinking, not what I'm saying. In reality, some verbal rubbish about being very busy or very tired or some such escapes from my lips before I can help myself. Then, "Oh Christ, look at the time! We've got to go." (These humiliations (plural) usually occur in the hour between breakfast and leaving for school so there’s always a good get-out clause.)
There is a fair amount of harumphing, tsking and ohhhhhhing before I can convince her that it really is most important that we get on the road. While she’s safely strapped into the car, I bolt back inside and sweep the chess pieces into their box. My pain is over for another week or so.
This ruse, of course, will only last for so long until she realises that she has the better of me. Is there any shame in that? I'm not sure, but it certainly doesn't feel good. In fact, in stinks. I thought at some point my children might overtake me - but at SEVEN!
So I take my lead and minor solace from the rambunctious French pip-squeak Napoleon, who opined that Death is nothing, but to live Defeated and Inglorious is to die daily. I don't mind dying on the chess battlefield if it means that I'll be remembered fondly. Adieu.