The Games We Play

Published by sandymckeown on


“Teach us to fly, Momma!” my grandchildren plead when they are seeking attention. I watch, engrossed, as my daughter-in-law begins the familiar routine.

“Hold out your arms,” she gently coaches. “Now, wave them up and down.” She watches their little arms begin flapping. “Good! Now faster, faster!” And my grandchildren run away from their mother, their arms flapping as fast as they can go. Then my daughter-in-law calls out, “You did it! You’re flying! You’re free!”

At this point she turns back to whatever she was doing, and the kids usually come back for more attention, but that’s okay—it was just a game she taught them.

Realistically, we expect the kids to leave and “be free” on their own. After graduation, we help them pack, show them the way to a job or college, and say, “You did it! You’re on your own! You’re free!” We also expect them to never move back home again.

Our economy has changed that.

We moved. Different state; bigger house. Three of the four kids who had moved out previously are back. Did we buy too big? Some may think so. I’m not there—yet.

I consider it a privilege to help our grown children when the world has not treated them kindly. My opinion may be different if they were doing little to help themselves. If that were the case, we would be deploying some tough love stances. However, if their wings are clipped due to rough winds, who’s responsibility is it to help them? The government’s?

Yes, boundaries are needed but sometimes sacrifices are, too, not only financially, but as a couple as well. Grown kids don’t go to bed at 8 p.m. There is always someone roving about the house. Privacy is something we have lost, but, hopefully, it’s not permanent. (I believe. I believe.)

There was another day, another time, when there was wide-spread economic suffering. And Joseph did something about it. “Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.” [Genesis 47:12]

Yes, there were other things going on there, but to simplify: Joseph had the means. He helped his family.

I wonder if our ever-burgeoning government would be a little smaller if we, as a society, had practiced that concept in our communities over the last century or two.

While my focus of late has been keeping up with the extra housework, buying groceries, and buying more groceries, something else has been happening. My grown children are spending more time together, bonding and learning to appreciate each other.

Four of our five were playing cards at the kitchen table one evening. There were raucous cheers, aahs, ohs, and slapping of the table in appropriate response to the evolving events of the game. Then suddenly, at nine o’clock at night, there was a mad scramble for a car. Confused, I popped my head up from a book and asked, “What are you guys doing?”

“We played for Popsicles!” one of them called out, “The losers have to buy for the winners. We’re all going to the grocery store to pick them out.”

Playing for Popsicles—this mother hadn’t taught them that game. They came up with that on their own.

What a joy it is to have my children home again for the economic duration. I get to watch my children get better at flying.

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Kristi · May 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

This one made me cry. It has been a long time since we played the baby bird game. The kids are growing so fast and it will only be a matter of time before they will fly away.

sandymckeown · May 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

That’s what parents do–cry when their babies fly.

Sweet Ginger Mama · May 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm

That’s really sweet. I agree, it would be different with kids that aren’t trying. Many other cultures outside the U.S. live with several generations together. I imagine mostly due to economic circumstances, but I sometimes wonder how much more beneficial it would be for families to spend that much time together, for decades, with the support that living together in a community like that provides? I think we lose out on some major benefits in separating ourselves from our families the way we do routinely in the U.S.

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