Better With Age

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The snow in Raleigh this past week was a bit disappointing.  There was a smidge covering a solid layer of sleet.  You can’t make a snowman out of sleet.

In year’s past, Lisa and I worked hard on these days to keep the girls from climbing the walls: snow angels, sledding, hot chocolate and tons of soaking wet laundry.  We were exhausted by their bedtime.

All of my kids were home last weekend, and there we were – with no plans and no strong desire to venture out.  Thus the beauty of their ages: 19, 16 and 14.  We are beginning to enjoy the same sorts of things.

My youngest and I sipped a hot cup-o-joe together.  I remember similar imbibes with my grandmother at her white, speckled linoleum kitchen table.  Michelle nearly used an entire bag of sugar to get the brown liquid drinkable, but I started that way too.

Stephanie and I went On Demand and began watching a new TV show on NBC, This Is Us.  We are nearly caught up on the first season, something we can enjoy all semester.  What a pleasant change from Barney.

DJ is spending a lot of time working out right now, so I introduced her to Tony Horton, the 50-year-old hunk who leads P-90X.  I happen to own a collection of his exercise CD’s.  We did the shoulder and arm video.  She hates Tony as much as I do and agrees with me that he has a major crush on Dreya who exercises on the mat next to him throughout the video.

“Clearly something is going on between them.”

“Yeah, I noticed that too.”

On Saturday night, we played Trivial Pursuit.  But knowing we aren’t the smartest family on the block, we decided to change it up a bit.  We reassigned the color categories and made up questions of our own.  You landed on Brown?  The topic was Family, and your team had to answer a question that the opposite team made up like:  In which city was each of your grandparents born?  Or, where did your mother attend middle school?

Pink was questions about church.  Yellow about the camp they attend.  Orange was school.  Green miscellaneous.

It took us three hours to determine a winner, but man did we have fun.  Oh, we learned a lot about each other as well.  That’s not a game we could have played five years ago.

Sometimes I lament the aging of my kids.  I wish they were younger, that I had more time with them.  I long to carry them in my arms from the car to the house, their little noggins nestled between my neck and my shoulder.

That was a sweet age.  But you know, this is too.  I imagine in ten years I will enjoy them even more.

Perhaps it is not the stage they are going through that strengthens my delight.  Perhaps it is the depth of our relationship that makes each year more precious to me.

Empire Strikes Back

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The Donald Trump Team

Our family plays a great game on vacation.  We learned it a year or two ago from friends when at our August jaunt to Capon Springs.  It’s called Empire.

We played at the beach last week.  The beautiful thing about the game is that it can be played by my 5-year-old niece and by Lisa’s 70 something-year-old uncle who suffers from Parkinson’s.

It takes no equipment, simply 8 or 10 or however many people.

Each player chooses the name of a famous person and secretly shares it with the game leader who collects all of the names and reads the list aloud to the group.  The players then guess who chose each name.

This last round, I chose Iggy Azalea.  I don’t really know her, in fact I had to Google to determine if she was actually a she.  But that was part of my strategy.  I figured no one would believe I could have come up with her name, because I am not that cool.

Unfortunately, Michelle saw right through me and by about the eighth round had figured out my strategy.  Because she guessed my famous person, I joined her “Empire.”  We were both now Scarlett Johansson, the name she put on the list.

Jesse outwardly celebrated as he had success.  My seven-year-old nephew was the first to fall to him at which time the two showed little class as they guessed six or seven more players in fairly short order.  Their hoots, shouts and victory dances were darkened when Michelle insisted that they were Donald Trump.  She was correct, and Jesse’s Empire fell to us.

Aunt Sallie was short lived as Strawberry Shortcake.   Nana chose Florence Nightingale which was also fairly obvious.  If played enough, it becomes clear that the older generation often leans toward historical figures, the middle generation tries to stump with the most unobvious choice and the youngsters go with someone they know, like Aladdin, a tried and true Disney character.

The game is part luck, part strategy.  While playing at Capon last year, I quickly guessed Uncle Jesse’s character, and then the two of us immediately figured out Aunt Sallie and Uncle Matt.  Other players suggested we were in cahoots prior to the start of the game.  In truth, we just knew each other well enough to make some fairly strong deductions.

As my kids age, I hope we will keep the spirit of inter-generational connections alive.  I don’t want to be an old person sitting alone on the beach.  I want to be in the mix with all.

A group activity is a great way to make that happen!