rules of the game

A bit of family trivia. My father’s parents were really good at bridge.

Julius was president of the world bridge association and one of the main prizes in the wide world of bridge is called the Rosenblum Cup. Pause for research. Turns out it is a tournament and not so incredibly important. But it goes on today in New Orleans where my father grew up and got kicked out of school.

I always imagined I would play cards. I spent so much time that it should have been my major in college. My roomate and I, and our friend Kirby had an entire notebook dedicated to potential “fourths” for our not quite Bridge card game. We played a spin off that had the spirit of Bridge but not the rules. They were too tricky to navigate.

Our family plays cards now. Oliver loves it, and as with many things he loves he plays at full volume. Screaming about his strategy, talking over himself to explain card math, and struggling to shuffle. Leo is our begrudging fourth. He needs to be gently coaxed into playing, and if all goes well he will win and stay with us. We don’t cheat, or at least we don’t throw the game to him, so he wins a little less than a quarter of the time.  He clearly doesn’t enjoy it though, and is at the table just to make the rest of us happy.

Oliver has never met a board game he didn’t like. I remember that feeling, following my parents around trying to get them to play. Then playing alone, using several cars at life, several “guys” in sorry, the dog, car, and hat in monopoly. On the plus side I always won. And lost. And came in second. And second to last. Sometimes I would try to change the rules to encourage a three way tie, but that brought about as much satisfaction as you can imagine.

Maybe I just used up all of my board game time back in my childhood. Now I am the mom ducking the kid with the game. Lately I have been saying yes a lot more. While we play the talk turns beyond the “strategy” of the game. Oliver tells me that he diagrees with the phrase “alls well that ends well.” I ask him to explain. He pauses then says “If we were at war with Canada and millions of people died, but then we won the war anyways…that might have ended well but all would not have been well.” Right.

So we play and talk a bit. Then I start to notice time stretching longer and longer. There are 9 holes left in the 18 hole golf card game, there is half a board in life. Forget monopoly, I’m not sure anyone under the age of 10 has ever finished a game. I feel itchy. I try not to rush him though his turn. He is dancing. Dancing and I want him to sit and play. So we can finish. My game patience is lower even than my general patience. I have been playing my own drinking game of how many times I can keep myself from rushing him.

I am drunk. And despite the cheer of my son not truly enjoying playing.

He looks at me. He wants to quit. He is done now. I try not to sound too eager. Are you sure? Shall we leave it out to finish later?

“No. It will just sit there and annoy us, lets clean it up.” He begins to stack the cards, semi neatly, and makes the pieces fit in the box. The lid can’t quite close and he opens it to check on the alignment of the board. He has it sorted now.

This is 8.

Eight talks while playing, and looks ahead to future messes, and cleans up and then, when I am almost out of the room, he says “Thanks Mama for playing. I know it isn’t your favorite game and I appreciate that you played with me.”

It is amazing how he has learned the rules of the game.





Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.