Uno: A Game of World Domination


Last Sunday morning I woke up and played Tic Tac Toe and Uno with my six year old while drinking coffee. Even at the time I knew it was one of those moments I’d look back on fondly as the years wear on. At the same time, I gained a deeper appreciation for people living in deeply flawed political systems, the kind of places where you have no voice or chance of financial success or freedom, the kind of place where you only make strides because the government decides not to extinguish your tiny flame of hope (yet).

This is basically what it’s like playing Uno with Daphne. Her Uno cheating is flagrant and overblown. She always gives herself all of the exciting cards and me none. Each game takes approximately ten seconds because she crushes all opponents with her flagrant cheating. Then she spread propaganda about her prowess and Uno success.

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Back when my oldest daughter, Lila, was in her cheating at Uno phase, she was subtler. She marked the deck and would boldly deal herself extra Wild cards right in front of the other players. We haven’t played Uno for three years because Daphne would army crawl from the room wailing every time Lila won. Also, it made family gatherings uncomfortable and not just because of the wailing. My brother came down hard on the Uno cheating. For him, every game of Uno is a moral crossroads. His kids might turn out better than mine.

All of our actions are a little like a game of Uno. The rules of Uno are just stated more clearly, which makes her manipulation more obvious. Winning at dinner or bedtime is a more nuanced game, though a game she plays just as well.

Yesterday the scoreboard in our house looked like this:

Mom: 0  Visiting Team: 5 (I’ve chosen to refer to the kids as “The Visiting Team.”)

My biggest failings: The kids won dinner, bedtime, TV time, and the middle of the night. At dinner, I was beaten by a sack of brown rice that took about five hours to cook.

Uno has betrayed all of our strategies. But the kids haven’t won yet. I’m playing the long game. I fully expect them to stop cheating at Uno and sleep through the night eventually. If they don’t, their spouses can blame me.

In other news, I think I’ll be writing another book soon! More to come on that…

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