31 January 2005

Single...With Children: An Invitation Parents Should Never Refuse

Single With Children: Board game stomping taught mother lesson

By Susie Parker

It started out as an innocent game of Monopoly. My son and I engaged in a marathon session. Hey, I thought I knew the game.

We played several rounds. Park Place and Boardwalk, are the most coveted properties on the board, or so I thought. Justin had to teach me differently in this week before he is to turn 17.

I knew he wanted them. But he managed to buy the lesser properties such as Baltic and Mediterranean, the light blues encompassing Oriental, Vermont, Connecticut, not to mention those railroads and utilities.

I held out. I kept my sights on Boardwalk and Park Place as well as the coveted greens of North Caroline, Pacific and Pennsylvania.

While I was working to thwart him by getting what I perceived to be his "gems," he was placing hotels on those seemingly innocuous properties.

I kept thinking the "Chance" of "Community Property" cards would send him into my sphere, and I would realize my fortune when he finally landed on my elusive properties. I finally had to realize how seldom anyone landed on my two exclusive properties.

Justin basically cleaned my clock, and my cash stores as well. Along with it, he taught me a valuable lesson.

We all know the adage of "slow and steady wins the race." I discovered it the hard way as I raced my way toward eventual bankruptcy.

Maybe there's a lesson there in life as well.

Justin still engages me in taking him on as an opponent, and for that I will be eternally grateful. How lovely to bond over a game, even if one is on the losing side. It's also a stark reminder that we adults don't always have the easy answers or the best guesses.

More importantly, I learned quite a bit about paying attention to "small stuff." It's not all about the most expensive finds. Life is in the details, even if it is those railroads and income-generating utilities.

Most important, I soon found out, was being invited to participate.

My child asked me to share some time with him. Whatever the final score, I felt most decidedly as if I had won, regardless of how much I had to mortgage to get there.

In this season of Thanksgiving, maybe we should all focus on the fact that our children love our inclusion, our participation and our attention.

Be present with your child. Whether it's "Chutes and Ladders," "Candyland," "Scrabble" or "Monopoly," the fact that you have been asked to play matters most. It's a sign that you are loved, cared for and worthy of attention. There's not enough money in the Monopoly bank to equate to that.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at Susiewrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

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