After being out of town for five days and then returning home sick, my daughter, Gabriella, was in desperate need for her Mom’s attention by the weekend. All I wanted was to take a break in a soft bed and quiet room. I just did not want to be Mom that day. I was sick and did not feel like being the playmate. However, just looking into my seven-year-old daughter’s pleading eyes, I knew I would do whatever she asked.
Then she asked me to play the game of Life.
Life. I have not played that game in at least 25 years. I could not remember anything about the game except that I cheated at it a lot when I played with my childhood friends. Candyland I could handle. It’s all about pretty colors. But Life? That involved money and children and buying houses and paying bills. The game was too similar to my real life to seem fun.
I tried to talk her into anything other than that game. As is common in our house with the two of us, she won. We set up the game and I began to read the rules. Maybe I would remember something from my past. (The answer to that was no. I did not remember any of it. Have they changed the game that much, or did I cheat that badly when I played?) As I read the rules, she proudly announced that it was completely unnecessary to read them. She knew what she was doing.
That began The Game of Life According to Gabriella. I am still confused as to the rules of her version. I know by the end of it, she was a millionaire and I was broke. (Yes. Just like real life!)
As we began to play, something unexpected began to happen. I found myself enjoying our time. When she got married in the game, to Zac Efron of course, I told her she was too young. She laughed and told me I could marry Daddy or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. (Sorry, honey, but The Rock won in this particular game.) When she would land on a space that said she had a baby, I would moan that I was too young to be a grandma! Of course, that led to a round of giggles from both of us. Then, I landed on “You had TWINS!” and threw myself dramatically onto the floor whining that I was too old for more kids and could she raise them for me? She said no. It was against the rules. She would babysit them, though, for $50,000.
All in all, we had a great time. We laughed, teased and, yes, cheated. But we had fun together.
To think I almost passed up that moment. I almost said "no" and left her hanging. But I didn’t, and we had over an hour of laughs and playing.
Just like real life, sometimes you don’t remember the rules and have to make it up as you go along. And, like motherhood, sometimes you have to just go with the flow that your kids have set and be flexible. Because? Sometimes Life will surprise you when you least expect it.
How has life unexpectedly surprised you?