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Air Hockey Wizard

One of Simon’s best Christmas presents this year was a kids’ air hockey table from his Grandma and Papaw. We play multiple games every day, and we both have a blast. We love it so much, in fact, that it is still sitting upstairs, placed behind our couch as though it were a sofa table. Once it’s warmer out, I’ll move it downstairs. Probably.

Here’s how I scored on Simon in those very first days: I used my mallet to send the puck across the table. Pretty much any attempt, no matter how feeble, succeeded, so I pulled back, did little/nothing, and let him win a few games to build his confidence. Only a 4-year-old would have fallen for it.

So what about a month ago? How did I score on him then? Sometimes, is the answer, and with restrictions in place. Matt and I decided to forbid defense in the half-moon goal area and offence beyond the midcourt line. If we played with those restrictions in place, Simon won about half the time, building up his skills and confidence.

And now? Kiddo makes me work for it. The occasional bank shot goes in. But most often, I have to draw him into a skirmish at the center line and then, once he’s distracted, strike hard at his weak right side. The result of which is that I win about 40% of our games.

He’s gotten really good! And the best part is that I can crow over good shots whenever I want (channeling my Whitworth-by-marriage status), because soon enough Simon will have one to crow over on his own. More than once this week, when Simon and I had lots of time together owing to Matt’s being in Phoenix for work, I momentarily forget that the fierce competitor across the table from me was my four-year-old son.

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