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When life imitates the game Sorry

2018 January 25
by Rachel Turiel

Monday night, Dan and his buddies are gathered in the solarium for their bi-weekly “bow-night,” in which a group of guys, wielding metal rasps and sandpaper, craft primitive bows out of tree trunks. It’s like Hunger Games meets a beer commercial. 

When I suggest to Col and Rose that we play a game, they select Sorry, a choice which gives me panicked flashbacks to the tedium of early years where five minutes passed like a geological era. But I give a resounding “yes!” because it’s the clearest way to say, “I want to be with you,” (even while my brain is liquefying). Col decides to create a stack of his own Sorry cards, spending half an hour scribbling directives on paper rectangles.
He folds his custom Sorry cards into the deck and on a turn pulls a Col original. “Say five curse words and move forward ten spaces,” he reads, blushing. He and Rose search my face, wondering if I’ll shut this down. Instead, I hold him to it. He can only come up with four, one of which is “crap.”
I can remember thinking, at least 25 times in the past eight years, that we had landed in the exact sweet spot of parenting, inhabiting some cosmic, singular intersection of independence and loveliness, the ingredients for such balance never to be present again. Maybe we had just thrown off the shackles of diapers but everyone was still beside themselves with enthusiasm for farm animals. Or, perhaps the kids could endure long road trips, but would still make an imaginative world of play on the shores of the Animas river. My belief that as the kids soared closer to independence they’d necessarily jettison their own childlike wonder like so much extra baggage kept me frantically attached to what was surely the last outpost on the unswerving path to some drab, inevitable adulthood. 
But childhood is not actually a linear path projected by Motherhood Inc, in which plot points create a predictable trajectory of growth. The kids soar and stumble, bouncing around every spot on the grid. Recently, I overheard Col explaining to a buddy that he felt hurt when other friends teased him about watching Barbie episodes with his sister. And I thought, “beautiful expression of feelings!” The next day, Col mocked his sister mercilessly. Par for the sibling course, but still, was this real life imitating a Sorry game? Ten steps forward, five back.
The other night the kids spent the evening hissing at each other like territorial snakes and then climbed wordlessly into the stacked mattresses of their bunk bed as if any hour past 8pm was automatic truce for cobras. I can hardly keep track of anyone’s personal trajectory anymore.
Cobra couch truce.
The Sorry game goes on tediously (as history predicts), and the kids are completely, bafflingly engaged. I’m reminded that these children contain all their former selves, a living mix of who they’ve ever been. It’s like simmering a soup, different flavors asserting themselves at different stages. Within this gumbo is the toddler “do it ownself” battlecry, transformed to the tween corollary: “You can’t stop me from wearing shorts in January.” Also within: four certified curse words and solo bike rides to friends houses. But wait – a game of Sorry surfaces like the pre-adolescent version of executives taking a load off on the golf course. Still in there! And because all we have is the sweet spot of now, I’m determined to be eternally delighted, which is a matter of my own perspective.
When I stir in the most recent layer to the soup—maybe that tweenish thing that gives me pause—the aroma of their collective days hits me and fills me with a knowing that there are no fixed points, no finish line, just a continuum of grace to be here growing together.
Multi-cobra couch truce.
In case you were wondering, elk rawhide is not a great sledding medium. Now you know!

Just when you thought there was no room for a foosball table in an 800 sf house. Guess again!

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Barb permalink
    January 25, 2018

    beverage snort alert on the cuss words :)) !!

  2. Susan S permalink
    January 25, 2018

    Re cuss words, that particular tweak to the Sorry game makes sense for someone who is a voracious reader. In my opinion, no vocabulary is complete without a large array of profanity options, preferably in more than one language. The trick is to know how and when to use them, and that takes practice. George Carlin’s words you can’t say on television, readily available on Youtube, might be a good resource. :-) Keep up the marvelous parenting/human work, Rachel. You and Dan are fantastic parents! Susan

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 25, 2018

      Thank you, Susan. Col will appreciate your intention to arm him with resources. :)

  3. January 25, 2018

    I love your reflection on the sweet spots of childhood and the gumbo of personhood! I’m taking that thought with me for a walk tomorrow. Cheers :)

  4. Elizabeth permalink
    February 2, 2018

    Read the curse paragraph out loud to my husband and had a very good laugh, until we realised our 6 year old would come up with a much longer list…
    Must really stop using curse words.

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