Their interest in the Super Bowl had waned. The youngest said Let's play Life! Her brother and sister agreed. And so as their mother and I whispered prayers for the scar-faced quarterback, our three kids took turns at Life - pursuing higher education, buying houses and cars, getting married, around the board you go.
The youngest sits with one knee pulled up to her chin. She wears her brother's old Colts jersey, her own pink pajama pants, some big gold bling-lookin' chain necklace, a green headband with reindeer on it, and one of those Live Strong type rubber bracelets except this one is red and two sizes too big. She's ready for Life, huh? When it's not her turn she's watching her siblings with rapt attention; they're both ahead of her. She also looks up to find my eyes and I try to affirm - keep playing, girl.
The middle sits in the same fashion. Her hair is pulled back. There's snow falling outside but she's wearing shorts and a t-shirt. She moves her game piece four spaces but she's also paying close attention to the commercials. Just a few moments earlier, before the half, she and I were eating chips and dip off the same plate. It was also just a few moments ago that I would place her in a crib and sing you are my sunshine, each and every night. The game's moving much too fast.
The first born is at least quadruple-tasking: the game of Life, holding out for Peyton, texting friends, and the commercials - he laughed uproarishly at the Volkswagen slug-bug and paid way too close attention to Go Daddy. One of his texting thumbs has a big black nail that's just about to come off. A few weeks ago a middle school girl, cute evidently, walked by and slammed his locker on that hand. He told me about it when he got home from school that day - Dad, I cried it hurt so much, but she was really sorry. I had to turn away a little as tears fell from my eyes for my son and his thumb and his heart. Yes, my strength, love hurts.
I tell their mother a turnover would seal this. And lo and behold, it cometh to pass. Porter runs like a man on fire. Her mother and I both stand and cheer, scaring the three gamers and waking the overweight Beagle. While yes, we cheered for the men, I also want to believe we cheered for those children at our feet, in uniforms of their own making, going around the board, growing, changing, enduring, living. Your games are just beginning. Keep playing, saints.