This winter we had a 2 week stretch of ice/snow/cold/who-knows-what-the-school-officials-are-thinking days, that is to say, TWO WEEKS OFF FROM SCHOOL. Unexpectedly. In late February. We made the best of it: sledding, hot chocolate, a marathon igloo building session with neighborhood kids. Well, Milo did all of that, I tried to work, and stay ahead of the slushy filth mucking up the path from the front door to the pantry where the goldfish crackers are kept.
On the days when there was only ice and it was too inhospitably cold to play outside, and his screen time had been exhausted and his friends were occupied, Milo inventoried his My Little Ponies, his books, his money and the family store of board games. And suckered me and my husband into Monopoly. Milo was the car, my husband was the hat and I was the dog. Milo bought Park Place and Boardwalk early, then gobbled up the far corner of the board, built a bunch of houses and hotels and kicked our asses. He waved a wad of that fake cash in our faces as he did his victory dance.
The next night he wanted to play again, so we did. And, of course, everything that could go wrong for Milo, went wrong for Milo. He bought too much too early, built too much too early, ran afoul of community chest and chance cards, had to buy his way out of jail. Because I’m conflict averse and a sucker for my crazy, long lashed, doughy boy, I made ridiculous trades with him, taking losses, practically forcing my assets on him. And still, my husband, a person whose politics guarantee a deep and abiding loathing of the game (and a sure fire lack of interest which meant a lifetime of losing at Monopoly) managed to own 3/4 of the board. As this catastrophe unfolded, Milo’s paranoia ramped up. First, the dice were out to get him.
Buddy, IT’S A GAME OF CHANCE. You’re rolling dice, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
No, the dice want me to lose. The game doesn’t think I should win. The board hates me.
My husband encouragingly reminds Milo of the many famous rich Americans who lost everything and still came back to be rich again. Milo takes offense, mostly because he knows that my husband finds these people silly (cough, Donald Trump, cough, cough.) There is yelling, fake money and property cards are slammed against the table and there is foot stomping worthy of that crazy Irish dancing.
Let’s take a break. It’s just a game.
IT’S NOT JUST A GAME. IT’S NOT JUST A GAME. It’s me, it’s my life. Nothing good ever happens to me. EVER. Ever. ever.
When the game ended, my husband, regretfully, had won.
The next day Milo refused to speak to my husband, or to be near him. He argued that my husband had sabotaged Milo’s chances, had “made” Milo “lose.” The day after that, Milo’s opposition to my husband’s existence was even more entrenched. It was hard to navigate the house. It was hard to negotiate Milo’s wrath. Everything reminded him of his loss, of Monopoly.
Buddy, do you want a peanut butter sandwich for lunch?
Not if daddy bought the peanut butter.
Milo, what do you think would help you feel better about Daddy?
If he would apologize for ruining everything.
Well, the monopoly game at least.
My husband was incredulous:
Why? I didn’t ruin anything. It’s a game, a game of chance.
Please for me.
No, I won’ be bullied into apologizing for something I didn’t do.
He’s not bullying you. He believes you have done this too him. He’s not manipulating you. He is crazy. You know you can’t reason with him in this state.
My husband stood firm. It was 5:30 pm. There was no plan for dinner in which everyone would participate. I put on my pajamas and went to bed.
And hour later my husband gently pulled back the covers and found me curled up with my phone watching Scandal on Hulu. God damn Olivia Pope would handle this shit.
My husband whispered, “I apologized to Milo and he forgave me. I’m taking him out for wings. He wants to know if you’ll play monopoly with us when we get back.”