I was tired. We had a long dinner out with friends; my daughter was at a sleepover. It was just me and my almost-ten son. He’s easy at bedtime and goes right to sleep. I was sort of hoping to do the same. But I could tell he was upset that his sister had a sleepover and he didn’t.
So I said, “let’s play a game.”
He chose Parcheesi, which just happened to be my all-time favorite game growing up. As we played, I remembered my old strategies: move two guys around the board, and let the other two form a blockade. My son had the opposite strategy and moved all of his guys along together in a close unit: “Safely in numbers, mom!”
Along the way, he told me the history of the game – Parcheesi was invented in India in 500 AD? My son is the king of random facts. He also told me about his first cotillion the previous night. He and his friends arrived late, missed the dance lesson, and got separated in the crowd. My son stepped on one girl’s foot – “not MY girl though,” he said. Then he added, “but it was hard to tell – all those girls look exactly the same!”
My son makes me laugh – when we slow down and I really listen to him.
At the end of the game, it came down to the luck of the dice. I was way ahead, but he caught up. I waited and waited to throw a 2 to win, while his lucky dice sent three men home. Finally, I looked at my boy, so grown up, yet still such a little boy, and I hoped so hard I wouldn’t get that 2.
And I didn’t. He won by a whisker.
My big-hearted son insisted that I should get another roll of the dice since he had gone first. So I did. A six and a one.
He won fair and square. But the big winner was me. It’s the secret of parenthood for me: if you put a little effort into it, you will be rewarded a million times over, even when you think you don’t have an ounce of effort left in you. That little push that gets you over the hump is the key to joy.