Category Archives: Kids – I really do love them

This Game Called Spoons

I survived the family vacation, but I’m not sure I can say the same for my nephew’s kids.

When he and his wife arrived with their four, very well behaved, little girls they looked something like this.

Good Girls

They sat quietly, shared their toys without complaint and volunteered to clean up.

However, after the residents of Crazie Town taught them how to have pillow fights, how to rip the winning Slap Jack card from their little sister’s hand and how to shout taunts of “DRAW BABY, DRAW” while playing vicious games of Uno, they looked like this.

Bad Girls

As I was apologizing to my nephew for his daughters latest Slap Jack fight, he said it reminded him of the time he came to visit Crazie Town as a kid and we played some evil game called Spoons.

“Spoons?” his eldest daughter asked.  “What’s Spoons?”

“Oh, nothing,” I said.  “It’s kind of like musical chairs only with cards and spoons.  You probably wouldn’t like it any way.”

Five minutes later she quietly sidled up beside me and laid a stack of spoons on the table.  “Teach me this game…” her eyes searched mine, hungry for knowledge…”this game called Spoons.”

I hesitated, not sure if she was ready for such an evil activity because here are the “rules” as they are known in Crazie Town.

1.  Remove all chairs and pull dining room table into the center of the room.

2.  Place spoons (one less than number of players) in center of table.

3. Players stand around the edge of the table.  Note:  Taller or gullible people are to be assigned the corners.

4.  Shuffle several decks of cards together and deal four to each player.

5.  Dealer draws one card from the deck.  He/She keeps it toward their match or passes it face down to the next person who picks it up and does the same.

6.  When a player manages to get three of a kind they calmly reach for a spoon, as does everyone else.

7.  The spoon-less person earns a letter toward the spelling of the word S-P-O-O-N.  (Or the spelling of LOSER, IDIOT, etc.)

In Crazie Town, rule number six is…shall we say…negotiable.

I remember a game where my older brother chased me through the dining room and kitchen, up the stairs and into the attic where he wrenched the winning spoon from my hand.  For some unknown reason, this was ruled “Fair Play” and thus, the game of Full Contact Spoons was born.

My first Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family almost ended in a trip to the emergency room when he thought it would be funny to sweep all the spoons onto the floor.  Husband and his daughter chased a spoon across the living room, bumping into a large bookcase that would have crushed them had someone not grabbed it at the last minute.  (Said person never releasing control of their precious spoon, of course.)

I once taught the game to a dozen, quite civilized, British people who, within ten minutes were standing atop a fifteen foot long antique harvest table wrestling and screaming for spoons.  The tournament came down to two men, my husband being one of them. The other being a proud gay man.  (As an aside…this proud gay man loved to sunbathe nude.  The first day of our trip, he came strolling out of the house naked and plopped himself down next to my husband whose only reaction was to ask “could you point that thing the other direction?)   But I digress.  On this particular evening of the Spoons game that came down to two men, we quickly chose sides and stood behind our Olympians shouting our support.  Year’s later, the results are still disputed and arguments deteriorate into who saved whom in what war.

Is that the kind of activity in which a little seven year old girl should be participating?

My better judgement did prevail and my niece left the family vacation for home without the knowledge of This Game Called Spoons.

At least until next year.

I Can’t Believe She Threw Me Under The Bus

Running Away to Aunt Lorena’s House

I took a drive to Crazie Town last week to visit my Aunt Betty Lou in her nursing home.

Every few months her facility schedules a family care meeting.  It’s an opportunity for them to explain how their $7,000 a month fee is being used to make my aunt’s life better.  The meeting is good, because if you ask her, they use the money to find new and interesting ways to irritate her.

I walked into her room to find her sitting in her wheelchair, arms crossed across her chest and a major pout on her face.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I told them I didn’t want to use the walker, so they deserved it,” she said.

“Uh, oh.  Deserved what?”

“That woman came in to help me to the bathroom and the whole time I was telling her I didn’t want to use the walker, but she said (and here my aunt scrunches up her face and talks like a baby) ‘Your family says you’re supposed to use the walker.’  So, I didn’t really have a choice, did I?”

Now my face was scrunched up.  “And what choice was that?”

“I threw my walker across the room.”

I chuckled.  I mean really, what’s funnier than a tiny old woman throwing a temper tantrum?

“Come on,” I said.  “We better get to the meeting.”  I let Aunt Betty Lou stay in her wheelchair (I’m no dummy) and rolled her into the conference room, which was filled with staff from the facility.  Immediately she assumed the arms-crossed, defensive position.

When we all settled in, the head nurse smiled at my aunt and asked, “How are you?”

Betty Lou snorted and then replied, “How am I supposed to know what day it is?”

“No.  I said, How ARE you?”

My aunt paused, looked at the ceiling and then lowered her gaze.  “I don’t know how old I am, but I was born in 1926!”

Aunt Betty Lou sat quietly through the rest of the meeting while they talked over her, telling me that “Miss Betty” liked movies but hated bingo, she loved having dessert with dinner then often came back later for a second helping and that she’d gotten into a bit of a kerfuffle with another resident when the woman had tried to cut in line for a manicure.

Flipping through pages and pages of documentation, the nurse noticed there was an item left blank on her form.  She leaned across the table and shouted, “Betty, do you brush your own teeth?”

Aunt Betty Lou paused and looked around the room in terror.  “Well…I, well…”  And then her gaze landed on me and her eyes lit up.  She reached out, pointed a crooked finger my way and said, “Teresa ran away from home.”

A room full of accusing eyes turned my way (well, except for Aunt Betty Lou’s.  Her eyes were filled with satisfaction.)  I couldn’t believe she’d throw me under the bus like that.

I was six-years-old and really mad at my mom, so I packed up my little suitcase – yes, family, I’m going to tell the truth  (for some reason, they love this part of the story) – I packed my suitcase with every pair of underwear I owned.  That was it.  No clothes.  Just underwear.

“I’m going to Aunt Lorena’s house,” I said.  “Because she loves me.” I stomped off, up the driveway and out onto the dirt road in front of our house.

I’d made about 10 yards when Mom came out onto the porch.

“You know,” she said.  “It’s a long walk to Lorena’s house.  Maybe you should eat some lunch before you go.”

I stopped walking but didn’t turn around.

“We’re having some of Betty Lou’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes,” Mom said and then I heard the squeal of the screen door as it opened and the sharp bang as it slammed shut.  Within two minutes I was back inside, sitting at the table on my chair stacked with telephone books, shoveling mashed potatoes into my mouth.

As I sat in the nursing home looking around at those accusing faces I thought for one second about throwing Aunt Betty Lou under the bus by bringing up the walker-tossing event.  But I realized that, much like a 6-year-old, an 86-year-old just needs to throw an old-fashioned temper tantrum once in a while.

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