'We Don't Let Dorothy Crack The Eggs Anymore" Chapter 14 "Games Blamed

What tired-blooded American mother doesn't occasionally succumb to the hypnotic suggestion to play games with her small fry?

Bad news. It isn't how you play the game, it's if you win or lose.

You lose. And I'm here to tell you it is the lucky parent who can get one game off the ground...even.

In a recent magnanimous moment I agreed to an on-the-floor free-for-all fracas with Monopoly. Bad news.

With four siblings equally determined to play with the battleship marker -- no one wanted the iron, thimble, cannon -- we played one-potato-two-potato for 10 minutes to decide who should be the winner of that bout. (They can't agree whether the first or last one out in this feisty fist fight wins and since each one refuses to lose, ergo we do it again and again....)

Finally, they closed their eyes and agreed disconsolately that Mommy could decide which play toy marker to drop in their open palms. Still the turned-down frowns persisted. Now - who would be first to go? Another 10 minutes down the drain.

The dice were finally cast. Only they fumble, perhaps count an extra jump to land on Park Place or deny vehemently they've landed in jail -- you know the devious ways of moppets.

If big business were conducted with the furtive maneuvers of these plays, Dow Jones Industrials Average would go below zero. Who ever heard of buying property once refused when the next player lands on it and the rent is due?

As a charter member of the Society for the Prevention of Migraines to Mothers, I called the game to a screeching halt. Their hysterical sobs and cascades of tears were sogging up the playing board anyway.

I don't need to buck for Coward First Class when it comes to these sorts of sports. I am a hollow shell of a mortal after the last episode of fun-and-games. And who decided to hyphenate fun with games? The hyphen should be a dash -- a 50-yard dash away! Games don't equal fun. General recreation equals major disaster.

We'd had it with Checkers (they always WIN!) and these sportive sorties leave one limp, so I exhorted them to get out the Hallowe'en costume box and I'd put makeup on the group. It was a rainy day...when you get hemmed in, leaving welts and frayed seams.

As soon as I'd said it, I could have bitten the words off. Why-why-why did the two youngest elect to wear red cellophane hula skirts? New Year's Eve at the Legion Hall always starts with a polite stir...

Ever try to put lipstick on wee people? "Stiffen your lips" -- was my demand. The Indian Rubber Man would reel away envy green. Heavy applications turned the little dollings into Betty Boops. "Put on a show," I urged. A couple of shy curtsies and much giggling ensued. After all of that messy gook and work they tired anew.

Suddenly, there it was - - a break in the weather. Between the morning monsoon and the afternoon Niagara falling - I broke out the bathing suits and we scampered to the local pool. Nothing short of a hurricane would have fettered me another minute to the house.

Nice weather for ducks? You bet. No sooner the plunge in and they duck each other to the tune of spluttering and splashing, shrieking and shouting. Call us mothers, do you??

I spell it R-E-F-E-R-R-E-E!