Soccer season is over. Basketball hasn’t quite begun.
With that break in competition schedules, we spent a few hours this weekend playing games — without keeping score. It was a welcome respite from fields and courts on which some hypercompetitive parents are a little too invested.
A Saturday free of organized play allowed us to commit to a summer camp reunion at one of those all-in-one fun places — miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, video games.
While waiting for hamburgers on the griddle, my children joined others on the sand volleyball court.
Kids served, volleyed and spiked over and over, pausing only to chase an errant ball. No one counted how many touches it took to get that ball over (or sometimes under) the net.
If a teammate missed, his buddy didn’t grumble. Not a single dad hovered or paced the sideline. Not a single mom hollered for a child to move faster, to hit harder, to dive quicker.
Those kids played because they wanted to, and they didn’t keep score.
After lunch and reunion activities, Cooper, Katie and I set out for more games.
When we selected clubs and brightly colored balls, we ignored the tiny pencils. We cheered for each other as we played 18 holes of putt-putt golf. When Cooper missed a hole in one by the thinnest margin, all three of us groaned. When Katie achieved her first hole in one ever, we all cheered. (So did the mom and daughter in front of us.)
We allowed do-overs and a few unorthodox moves. There may have been some dancing as we waited on families in front of us to finish.
We played because we wanted to, and we didn’t keep score.
I drove a go-kart for the first time in my life. Cooper lapped me. Twice. (I’m a slow-and-steady kind of go-kart driver, and everyone else is Mario Andretti. I think every driver on the course lapped me. At least twice.)
The bumper boats, tucked away in a lonely corner, beckoned. We were the only three in the pool. Girls in one round boat, boy in the other.
If bumper boat scoring existed and if it were judged by how often a human target was sprayed with water, Cooper definitely won.
My hair was soaked. My right sleeve was soaked. Not that I’m keeping score.
I drip-dried as we walked into the arcade, where 10 tokens per child doesn’t stretch far. Cooper’s and Katie’s gaming skills earned them each a few tickets. Not enough to cash in for more than an eraser or pencil or maybe a strip of stickers. (Has anyone ever “won” a bicycle at one of those counters?)
On our way out the door, Katie spied a younger girl playing games with her grandmother.
“Here. These are for you,” she said as she gave away our small stack of tickets, adding to the little girl’s medium stack.
It was a win-win kind of day.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.