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It starts at an early age… manipulation …

It would seem we are born with the ability and learn to master it more and more over the course of our lives!

As a parent of two teenagers, I have watched the progression grow from the earliest of ages when my toddler cried until near death, how she wouldn’t survive a few peas on her plate.

And as a parent, you sit back and think, “Dear God I just want it to end”…and you forego the peas…

and….the seed is planted….

From that day on, the angelic creatures that were born of God, Angels from Heaven, if you will… start to slowly and methodically shed their halos…and eventually, their wings….

And the minor argument of peas gives way to inability to do laundry or chores… or whatever displeases them….

And, as a parent…a very tired parent…you are chipped away at like a once grand tree, whittled into a chair…that people use… to sit on… and be lazy….

But there are times, as parents, we see the greater good and we actually FORCE our children to do what we want.  By hook or by crook…(or by loss of their phone) you have a moment of grandeur ….and you win.

NOT AT FIRST, mind you.. because if they are displeased, they will do their best to make you pay for their misery….

Such was the situation tonight, when I forced my daughters to sit in the back yard and play scrabble on family night.

I can literally tell you EVERY REASON why my kids hate scrabble…because they told me so…in great detail…

They sat, with their letters in front of them, completely forlorn and empty of thought, emotion or word…. No joke would crack a smile on their face, because if it did, then that would mean they are having fun and that was NOT….going to happen…

As the game went on, and their scores tanked for lack of effort, we adults ignored and persevered.  Whether they had fun or not was not our concern.  Their presence was more important no matter how they tried to change our minds.

I helped them with words as their turn came up… they could care less and got back to their expressionless face…

Then, somehow a word was spoken and a short conversation started.  Next thing you know, one of the girls got a BINGO (that’s 50 points plus the total of the word) and the wind started changing a bit… slowly but surely, the air started to get more charged…the conversation started to kick up… and said stock teenagers started mocking each other and laughing a bit.

Next thing you know we had FULL BLOWN ENGAGEMENT!!!

By the end of the game, everyone was involved and stories were flowing and laughter was no longer withheld.

And in the moment when the game ended and I looked around, I told the girls… It’s not about the GAME… it’s about the COMPANY…and the banter and the stories that happen DURING the game.  If you shut yourself off from that you lose the opportunity to have a good time.

Half the fun I have during the games is making fun of my mom for making up words that sound like they could be something, or stopping the game because she can’t find a good place for her crappy word… OR…. getting frustrated at Julie, aka The PEN, win every game because she’s keeping score.  It’s also about listening to my mom tell the stories of when she used to steal fruit from the neighbors trees as a kid, and run from rooftop to rooftop trying to escape persecution from the neighbor…

It’s the innocent conversation that happens in the meantime….

Having my kids end the game tonight with laughter and stories made me realize that we sometimes have to push through the negative moments for them to forget themselves and have a good time.

I don’t care if they suck at scrabble…I care if they are present with us.  I know they will continue to hone their manipulation skills…and that’s okay… but every so often, I get to pull the Mom Card and force them to be a part of the family… and create fun memories in the meantime!

It was a big picture moment tonight and I’m glad I didn’t let them win with their crappy attitude …because in the end with a little patience…we all won!


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