Gripping the Tower


Photo by Igor Trepenshchenok, distributed by Barn Images. Used by permission under Creative Commons license.

You may remember that a couple weeks ago I brought in a tower of blocks, one that’s a game.

You probably know how the game goes. The players each have to remove one block from the tower in their turn. And you keep going around to see who ends up pulling the block that makes the tower fall down.

Those who like to win select their blocks very carefully, and they move them gently, slowly sliding them out from their place and leaving it just that much harder for the next person.

Those who like to watch block towers fall down, well, they play it differently.

This story is about two girls who liked to win. One of them had been playing the game at her friend’s house, and when she got home, her mother noticed that she looked angry and upset.

“What’s wrong,” she asked, “Didn’t you have fun?”

“No,” announced her daughter. “She cheated. Every time she went to pull a block out of the tower, she held onto the tower with her other hand. That’s against the rules. She cheated.”

She continued on this theme for some time, more time than I really have to tell you this story. Eventually, so ran out of steam.

And her mother, who’d been thinking about this for some time, said:

“You know, if both of you held the tower while you were pulling your blocks out, that would still be fair, wouldn’t it?”

“Well, yes,” said her daughter, “but it’s against the rules. It’s wrong.

“Yes,” her mother nodded, “but which would you like better: To play the game with your friend, or to be right?”

“I want to do both,” said the little girl.

“I’m sure you do,” laughed her mother, “but we don’t always get to do both.”

It took the little girl some time to make that choice. It wasn’t easy at all!

But the next day, she was back at her friend’s house, and they each held the tower as they gently pulled out their blocks.

Because the game could go on.

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