Tuesday, June 11, 2019

'Complaining is part of the fun'


     I wrote this last November but never posted it. I'm not sure why; maybe I didn't think it was up to snuff. Maybe it was simply overlooked. It's somewhat appropriate now, since the older boy is coming home this weekend, for Father's Day, after an absence of ... gee ... five months. Can't wait.

     "Let's play a game!" said my younger son.
     Something of a surprise. I had just finished making a big pan of stuffing.
     "Great idea!" I replied.
     The kitchen island was cleared. His older brother, who arrived about 1:30 a.m., was enlisted in the cause. The game we play, "Settlers of Catan," involves building roads, settlement, trading resources. A lot more fun than it sounds.
     We took turns, each rolling a pair of dice to determine which resources are handed out. We were playing at a kitchen island, and though we rolled carefully, occasionally a die would skitter off onto the floor.
      I rolled, and one die went over the side. On the table the die showed two—two "pips," actually. The black circles on dice are called "pips." The younger boy leapt up and read the die that had tumbled onto the floor.
     "Seven," he said.
     "Okay, nine," I replied, checking the board to see whether that rolled earned me any resources.
     "No," said my son. "The one on the floor is a five. The total is seven."
     "Of course," I said, smiling slightly.
     "There is no 7 with one die," my older son explained.
     I knew that. I know that a die has six sides, one through six. A piece of technology unchanged since Roman times. Amazing, really. But I expected him to read the dice, not add it to the two on the table, so when he said "Seven" I did the addition myself.
     Is there a lesson there? Maybe that expectations can trump our knowledge? Or maybe it's Thanksgiving, and I should just enjoy the game—which I did, and not just because I won, though that helps. I never win—and not think so much.
     There was a moment earlier in the day that I will always treasure. I was making the stuffing. The boys and their mom had been talking in the living room, but I lured them into the kitchen, by taking some of the challah I was cutting into croutons for the stuffing and making it into french toast instead. The family moved into the kitchen to enjoy some french toast.
     The topic was restaurants, with this or that establishment coming under close scrutiny. I wasn't really listening, and then a sentence cut through the kitchen clatter.
     "Complaining is part of the fun," my older boy said. I stopped what I was doing, dried my hands on my apron, and walked carefully around the island.
     "That's my son," I said, kissing him on the head.


  1. Was discussing just that issue -- complaining -- last night at my birthday dinner at Mabenka's, a delightful restaurant with real live Lithuanian waitresses and wonderful gut-stretching meals. The conclusion was that it was a good idea to complain directly and immediately to the people in charge, giving them a chance to rectify the wrong, rather than (or at least before) spreading it around that the place in question is a dump to be avoided.


  2. Generational note - the oldsters call the game "Settlers" and the kids call it just "Catan."

    Were you orange or blue?


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.