My next-to-the-youngest grandchild, five-year-old granddaughter Amalia, is a cute, curly redhead with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Unlike a sieve, from which what goes in always leaks out, Amalia’s brain is like a sponge—soaking in everything—that has somehow managed to morph into a super-computer.
A few weeks ago, Amalia was sick and needed to stay home from Kindergarten. With her dad and mom both working, and with her Mimi Connie teaching at the same school Amalia attends, the responsibility to stay home and care for the sick little one fell to Papa. That’s me.
You see, I don’t work. I write for newspapers and speak on radio—not too many people consider that real work. I used to, but I don’t anymore. I also supply preach at area churches, keeping busy most every Sunday, but most people feel that most preachers don’t actually work. So, like I said, I don’t work. That means I was free and happy to step up and care for my not-feeling-well little one.
Our daughter dropped Amalia and her younger sister by the house each morning. Eleanor, a preschooler, then rode with Mimi to school each day. Mimi is not a preschooler, you understand. She is a Middle School teacher at the same school Eleanor attends.
The rest of the day, it’s just Amalia and me.
She watched a bit of television, did a lot of sleeping, and spent long stretches sitting on Papa’s lap, leaned back against his chest. But on that first day, she was exploring the spare bedroom and noticed, high on a shelf, something that grabbed her attention.
“What’s that, Papa?”
“That’s a board game called Parcheesi,” I told her. “It is my favorite game to play.”
“Can we play it?”
We could, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to. That five-year-old is a strategist, and being a strategist is just what you need to be when tackling parcheesi. But, I have always tried to teach my children and grandchildren how to play Parcheesi when they were in their fifth year. And, so, since the strategist in this case was five years old, I said, “Yes. We can play Parcheesi.”
I have made other fundamental errors in my life. That one just happens to be the most recent.
After spreading out the board on the dining room table, asking her what color she wanted, and putting her pieces and mine in the safe confines of their respective home areas, I launched into a simple explanation of the game—its rules, its strategy, its goal.
That’s when I saw it in her eyes and all but heard the whirring of motors, crunching of numbers, and mapping of strategy in that five-year-old brain. Like I said, she is a strategist. She is also ruthless, heartless, and goes for the jugular. Same with me. And I never let her win. She must earn it.
Currently, games are 16-4 in her favor.
Strategically, I have hidden the game in the closet.