Jake is a study-er. He likes to really contemplate things and learn how they work. It's very interesting to sit and watch him ponder something. It's like you can truly see the little wheels turning as he figures things out.
His latest subject is chess.
I don't even know why, but a couple days ago he pulled this box out. There are about seven different games involved with this box and he pulled out chess and has been obsessed with it ever since.
He sits on the couches and sets everything up, including the dog-chewed directions that came with this $8 game. As you can imagine, they are top-notch instructions that go into minute detail. Not.
Maddie won't play this with him. The one time he asked me to play, I was in the middle of something else and couldn't. And well...after watching his dad play he probably doesn't want to enter that level of competition yet.
So, he has taken on the toughest challenger he could find: himself.
Today Jake was home sick. At one point I checked on him in the basement assuming he'd be watching t.v. or sneaking in some Wii time. When I asked what he was doing, he answered, "Playing chess." But he said it in a tone that also replied, "What else would I be doing?"
I've watched him the last couple days. He refers to the instructions for how each piece can move. He's asked me why the bishop is shaped the way he is. (Bishop? Is that the diagonal piece?) We've had a couple in-depth discussions on how to plan your moves and how you have to think ahead to the opponent's possible moves. The other night I watched him as he played before bed. He had actually begged me to let him finish his game. He said he was really hoping the brown team won, but he thought the white team was going to pull ahead. Five minutes later I returned and the brown team had pulled up to "tie" the game. Amazing.
I've asked him - he doesn't "pick" a side to be beforehand. He said he just plays his best for both sides. (Unless he wants the brown team to win...then you have to wonder...).
He reminds me a lot of Mike in this approach to learning new things on his own. It's a quality I greatly admire in Mike and one I am proud of Jake for having.
Tonight as he put the game away he noticed the backgammon board on the opposite side of the lid. He asked me about it and I could already see the wheels turning...