How to Win at
Scrabble with
Your Nine-Year-Old

First off, cheat. Not on your own behalf: on hers;
This may seem counter-intuitive; do it anyway,
as soon as she picks E, you pick T and she balks.
Let her go second. Then, swiftly, plunk down all your letters
to repair your dignity. When her face clouds the dangerous color of
“isn't your science project due tomorrow, the one you haven't started?”
sweetly but authoritatively request to see her letters, and fashion her
a “sevener” topping yours, but under no circumstances look it up,
though you both have raised eyebrows; simply say “trust me; I'm old.”
Let her trade her letters, lying that this is allowed once without
missing a turn; when she's does it a dozen times (surreptitiously)
keep mum; assume the calm status of the self-delusional. Then,
half-cunningly, half-moronically, slip “quo,” into a triple word slot,
challenge yourself, lose, then tantrum mightily, like your father taught you.
Make more words for her, really yummy ones, as though beating
even a gerbil at Scrabble is certainly no life-and-death matter for you.
At the final tally, 294 to 293 (in your favor), exclaim “FANTASTIC!
When she pouts anyway, recall that she has a turn outstanding,
and while she gets into her pj's, marry her last aching A (triple-letter it)
to a soulful, lonesome S, and put her over the top by three.
VICTORY IS HERS! SHE IS JUBILANT! Feast on all teasing like chocolate.
Then, lie down with her as is each night's tradition, see the glow of plastic stars
on her ceiling, and ponder together the funky wonder of peripheral vision's acuity.
Once she sleeps, go outside and look up; what you see is not what's there.
In your mind's periphery waggles a pink plumpish star fingering
a shallow beat-up box, mining for major miracles.
You saw her drift off with that huge smug grin. 297 to 294, in her favor.
Which means, of course, that you won.

Julianza Shavin

Julianza Shavin (, who often has to eat her own words, says that in tile form, it's rather tough chewing, but find that lots of ketchup and beer is quite helpful.

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