You parent your kids when they’re little and then at some point, I don’t remember when, the role-reversal begins. Or Payback Time as I call it.
Like playing games for example. The three games that have survived our family’s growing-up are Scrabble, Monopoly and Rummikub, and these are the games that come out every Christmas with whoops and yells. We’ll play all with varying enthusiasm, but it’s Rummikub that every member of the family loves.
For those who don’t know it, it’s a numbers game that’s just as much fun to play with two as with four, and you can play with different levels of ability without it really ruining the game. It’s also addictive.
‘Game of Rummikub?’ I have been saying hopefully every day to my daughter since my passion was reignited over Christmas. We played nine games in a row one day, only one of which I won because my daughter is the acknowledged master of this game in our family and she always wins.
I am being indulged. ‘O.k’ she says when I suggest a game, ‘In a minute’.
‘Best of three?’ I beg after she’s beaten me twice.
‘O.k. Just one more then.’
Finally she says ‘But Mum, it’s a Christmas game.’
‘Rummikub is not just for Christmas, Rummikub is for life’ I say sternly.
I realise the game of role-reversal is complete: I am now the whining child and she is the withholding adult.
I told her ‘This is just what it was like when you were little! You were always begging me to play Pairs with you and I did but it was kind of boring to play when you know you’ll always win and it’s not a challenge…’
‘But I usually beat you at Pairs when I was little Mum’ she points out.
‘Oh yeah. Funny what we forget. But just one more game of Rummikub? Pleeeeeease, pleeeeeeease…I’ll be your best friend.’
It’s pester power in reverse and I’m happy to report that it’s working pretty well so far, to the extent that I haven’t yet even had to pull out my ace and resort to throwing a tantrum.