Since having kids my life has slowly evolved into a series of games I never wanted to play. I am an unwilling participant in the game that I ironically created. I put out the pieces, I chose the location, I even created the players and yet somehow they are the ones pulling the strings. Jigsaw himself would shudder at this level of ingenuity.
Now I had pictured predictable games of peekaboo very slowly morphing into cunning and calculated games of risk, but this, this, I never saw coming.
I’m perpetually being forced into games of hide and seek where I am permanently seeking, seeking my toothbrush, my car keys, one of my daughter’s 26 soothers that she has hidden. Which is quickly followed up by 21 Questions, beginning with where have you been?
I’m subjected into performing twisteresque moves as I hold both the toilet and the drawers shut, fending off piranha-like teeth of fury, while applying mascara, in order to prevent my daughter from repetitively sinking her toothbrush into the Vaseline and then the toilet.
Begrudgingly I play Go Fish, except I’m continuously fishing for matching socks in a mountain of laundry. I thought I’d solved everything when I purchased a very large amount of plain white socks. After a few wears and washes they have all turned varying shades of mud, thus creating natural partner socks and the unsuccessful fishing begins again.
I am the master of the 12 meter dash (now I’m not sure if dashing is technically a game, but I’m very well practiced, and could do this competitively, but only in socks and on vinyl flooring). When I hear the eeriest sound a parent can hear, nothing, I take this to mean that they are both dangerously entangled in the perilous strings that control my blinds, only to find them two spoons deep in a ten pound container of sugar. Surrounded by a thinly layered circle of sweetness, my oldest daughter declares, “I like sugar” and since they are both safely occupied I dash back to the bathroom to finish getting ready for the day.
My youngest daughter doesn’t talk quite yet, but that doesn’t stop her from loudly communicating when something is not going her way. There is a mark on her head and she is yell crying proclamations of injury. I deductively try to piece together the events that led up til now. Was it a fall? She shakes her head, which could denote either a yes or a no. Did you bonk your head on a drawer? Again indeterminate head shaking with more yelling accompanied by arms flailing and fingers pointing. Did your sister hurt you in the office with the candlestick?!?
When my daughter dumps the tin full of no less than 148 fragments of chewed crayons onto the table, half of them clattering to the floor, I’m not sure whether to be irritated or giggle as she claps her hands gleefully as she realizes what she has done, either reaction will guarantee a repeat dumping so I sit staring, expressionless, exhibiting the poker face I learned many years ago, unwilling to show my hand, but so close to folding.
Reluctantly, I use my Operation-like skills to scoop quickly regenerating boogers out of a congested, crying, flailing, target. Because of intensive early training, I am able to do this with great precision.
My house is becoming more and more like Jumanji as the number of stuffies and play animals begin to multiply. Stampeding from the bedroom where they belong, they have made their way down the hall and into the living room. I attempt to chase them back but the greater the effort I put forth the larger the revolt.
At times I feel like the poor old maid, pictured as aging and worn, hair pulled back, but even more haggard is the card itself, bent so many times the woman on the front is almost unrecognizable. I know how she feels, wrinkled, dirty and exhausted, and instead of being quickly passed back and forth between 2 players she just wants to curl up in bed with a book.
Being a parent you need to think a few moves ahead, anticipate what the other player may do, adjusting your actions accordingly. I was never any good at chess. I can see exactly zero moves ahead, because kids, at least my kids, are excruciatingly unpredictable. And perhaps that is why parents take a great deal of pleasure in embarrassing their teenage children. One can hope.