We’ve recently instigated a family game night. My eight-year-old daughter designated herself as the game chooser/reminder/setter-upper-er. She’s quite proficient at it.
Oh, no no no no. Rack-O is no ordinary card game in our home. It’s a full contact sport.
First off, we have to wait till the youngest goes to bed. To protect the week and fragile of course. The first time we played, he participated. He bit three of use, and tore out a clump of my hair. That may be slightly exaggerated by three bites and a clump of hair, but Jacob is NOT to be trifled with!
As soon as I close the door to Jake’s room, Courtney has the card table cleared, chairs set up, and is prepping the cards.
“Mom, will you shuffle them?”
I take her cards, shuffling them. “Are you and I the only ones?”
“Ask Dad if he wants to play.”
Courtney scrambles over the chair, bounds down the stairs, and comes back two minutes later. “He will be up in a minute.”
“Awesome,” I say, setting up another rack. “Check if Nate will play too.”
A grin washed over her face. She loves to play with her 17-year-old brother. It’s like David fighting Goliath. Victories over Nathan are the ultimate goal for Courtney. She speeds down the stairs, hollering halfway down, “Nate! We’re setting up Rack-O, wanna play?”
Five minutes later, the four of us sit around a rickety old card table, giving each other the evil eye. I deal the cards, one at a time. I narrow my eyes at each of them. “No cheating. No biting. No slapping. No screaming. You wake Jacob, you put him back down.”
Nathan mimes zipping his mouth closed. “Quiet. Got it.”
Dad rolls his eyes. “I never cheat.”
“Uh-huh. Like you never have road rage at the slow drivers in the left lane,” Nathan says.
Dad makes a face. “Shhh! Don’t tell your mother. She might ground me.”
“You’re already grounded,” I say, shaking my head.
Courtney draws the first card. Giggling, she places it in her rack.
This continues for two cycles, Dad offering an occasional derogatory remark, but staying pretty quiet.
Then, Courtney asks a question and I turn to answer. Dad, head down, slowly slides his hand toward the discard pile, pulling a card away.
Like a flash, I slap his hand.
“Ouch!” he says, grinning. “What that necessary?”
Nathan tries to mimic Dad, but Courtney catches him, shrieking and smaking his arm. “No cheating, Nathan.”
Nathan snickers, pulling his hand away. I straighten the cards. Courtney leans over, surreptitiously glancing at Nathan’s cards. On his turn, Dad takes two cards from the discard pile, instead of one. I snag the extra, placing it back in the pile.
It’s my turn, so I glance down at my rack for a split second. Nathan snags the same card Dad tried to commandeer. Courtney lunges for the card while Dad re-sequences a couple of his existing cards. I elbow him in the ribs.
“Ow,” he says, rubbing his side.
“Quit cheating. You’re being a bad example for the kids.”
“As if they need any help,” he says, pointing to Nathan and Courtney. She’s lunged at him, reaching for a card he’s stretched just out of her grasp. She plants one hand on his face, standing tip-toed, clawing at his forearm with the other. “Give it, Nathan!”
Nathan laughs, and Courtney scowls before lunging for him, pushing him backward and nearly knocking him out of his chair. She jumps onto his bicep with the full force of her weight. Nathan’s eyes bulge at the extra 65 lbs he’s now supporting. He falls to the side, and Courtney climbs over him, grabbing the card and scrambling out of his grasp.
She blows an errant lock of hair out of her eyes with a puff of breath then stomps to the table, slamming the card into the center. With as scowl, she draws a card and looks at her rack. A smile slowly spreads across her face. “Rack-O!”