Tag Archives: Norman Rockwell

Love Means Never Having to Play Sorry!®

“Grandma, will you play Sorry!® with us?”

Does that request conjure Norman Rockwell scenes of bright-eyed children and a sweet old lady playing that ultimate in generational togetherness, the board game?

Years later, I know better. If you’re dealing with COVID, you do, too.

But I was naïve then. Questions like, “Grandma, will you play kick-the-grenade with us?” wouldn’t have lulled me into false security. But this rosy prospect of quality time with seven-year-old Ava, five-year-old Josh, and three-year-old Jamie dulled self-preservation instincts. I asked my son-in-law for their Sorry!® game.

His eyes widened. “Sorry!®’s toxic! We hid it on a top shelf beside the roach killer.”

You’re totally overreacting. “Because you care about your children?”

“Because we wanted to survive. Play Candy Land®,” he urged. “Candy makes everybody happy. But Sorry!®? Sign a living will first.”

To reassure him, I did. Then, in my best grandma style, I gathered the children to play Sorry!®.

Game pieces debates ensued before we opened the box.

I intervened. “Ava, use blue pawns, since it’s your favorite color. Josh goes first, since he’s taking yellow.”

Was I good, or what?

Jamie objected. “My pieces.” His dimpled hands grabbed them all. Clever Grandma, however, had bought M&M’s® for such emergencies. “I’ll give you blue candies for blue pawns.” Eventually, Jamie returned all but the green pieces.

World War III, however, raged until the others received corresponding M&M’s®.

Players must draw one or two to exit the start area. Josh drew two, and Ava, one. Jamie drew 12, celebrating with a loud “Ya-a-y!” because he got both numbers. We didn’t contradict him.

I drew eight. With luck, I’d come in last. Of course, some people — specifically, grandpas — insist on winning. They cannot appreciate the skill that goes into playing badly. But children do. That’s why they’d rather play with Grandma.

Jamie decided he’d accept only 12s. Other numbers precipitated a Kewpie-doll pout and, “I can’t want that card.”

I tried to convince Josh to send my pieces back to start, but he targeted Ava’s. She swatted his off the table. The dog and cat, convinced they were big yellow M&M’s®, fought for possession.

Jamie, having drawn two 11s in a row, sent the newly arranged game board flying like a square Frisbee®.

This family afternoon had digressed from Norman Rockwell to Jerry Springer.

Proclaiming them all winners, I distributed the whole bag of M&M’s®, suggesting they improve their minds by watching SpongeBob. The Sorry!® game went back beside roach killer. I ate an extra bag of M&M’s® reserved to treat post-board-game trauma.

Would those kids talk Grandma into such “recreation” again?

Sorry!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What game wreaks havoc at your house?

Vacation’s Over … Thank God!

Hubby and I have just returned from two weeks of camping, aka our vacation. Grateful to return with only 4,271 mosquito bites, I greet my calendar, which features a two-scene 1947 Norman Rockwell print entitled “Going and Coming.”

In the first, a grinning guy showing off a snazzy fedora and big cigar drives a station wagon topped by a boat. His smiling wife holds Little Sister on her lap. Junior and Fido hang out a window. Warm air flaps their ears and ours, and spit hits our windshields as they pass. Big Sis blows a bubble with her gum that could carry her to the lake by air. Little Bro holds his nose, giving the “You stink!” gesture that passed for rudeness during that era. Beside him, Grandma, sitting straight as a general, ignores the little heathens because of her poor eyesight.

At least, that’s the excuse we grandparents give.

In the second scene, the family returns from the beach. Dad sports only a stump of his cigar and bravado. Mom and toddler snooze. Even the boys and dog sit sedately, and Big Sis’s bubble has shrunk to earthbound size. Grandma, still ramrod straight, probably sleeps with her eyes open, a skill she’s perfected during church.

These Rockwell pictures shout their message so loud and clear even art experts can’t mess with it: “Vacation’s Over … Thank God!”

Each spring, epidemic celebrations offer a taste of summer, tantalizing as our first mouthful of strawberry shortcake. We view new territory, thumbing our noses at those less audacious, confident our bubble gum will taste good forever.

By late July, however, we surpass our quota of quality time together, especially in the car. We peel from the sun’s overfriendliness. Sand has made itself at home in cars, carpets and shorts. Kids have grown an extra epidermis comprised of sun block, Popsicle®, and dirt.

Oddly, something deep inside us craves an alarm clock — and regular bath times. We still love barbecues, but a Sunday roast with mashed potatoes and gravy sounds even better. We want our beds, our messy houses and our schedules.

Even messier because of vacations.

In Rockwell’s return scene, Dad will unload the car, including boat, gear, and sleeping children. Mom faces the formidable task of putting the remaining kids — freshly energized by their arrival home — to bed. (A side note: Both scenes feature children who appear entirely too clean. Mrs. Rockwell never would have painted them thus.)

Coming home is no picnic. Like this family, we continue to meet ourselves going and coming, coming and going. That’s life.

We wouldn’t miss it for anything.

 

Today, are you coming or going?