Mar 5, 2007

Stop Kemps

Do you all remember that game Kemps, where you each had a partner and you went off into the corner to work out a signal, and then you passed cards furiously around until somebody got 4 of a kind and then they did their signal and their partner better have been paying attention enough to shout Kemps! You played it at slumber parties when you were eleven.

Bored with playing War or Go Fish, Girl's entire repertoire of card games, I try to introduce Kemps to the household. I partner up with Girl, and we send Guy and Boy out of the room to go work out their signal. Girl and I decide that if we get 4 of a kind, our signal would be to sneeze. Guy and Boy come back, and I start passing cards around. Girl looks at the 4 cards in her hand, willing them to turn all the same, but can't bring herself to look in the ever-growing pile of cards by her knee. Boy gets no cards. I get 4 of a kind, and sneeze. "Bless you," Girl says absently.

We simplify things. We each get only two cards, and have to try for 2 of a kind. Our new signal is to sing Cheerio, Baby--unsubtle, but perhaps more effective.

No such luck. Again, intense concentration on the two cards in her hand--so focused, in fact, that she notices neither Boy and Guy exchanging their signals and high fives, nor me singing Cheerio, Baby as loud as I can.

We simplify further. Girl gets one card, I look at it, and then search frantically through the pile for a pair for her. Our signal is to jump up and down saying "I win!" It ends with me jumping up and down, Girl looking up at me thoughtfully while holding the pair that she has had in her possession for the past two minutes, and Boy and Guy rolling on the floor laughing at us.

The fact is, Boy isn't playing because he never, EVER gets a card handed to him by Girl, and, well, Girl really isn't playing because it's clear that the concept is totally beyond her and what was I thinking trying to torture these poor kids with dumb games from my childhood that really don't make sense to begin with and probably aren't much fun unless you're eleven and you've had lots of cake and coke and inhaled a lot of puffy paint. And yet, Boy and Girl are positively screaming with delight as if nothing in the world could be more fun than failing miserably at playing cards.

It occurs to me that right there are two people who honestly love me no matter what, and whose default position is "Cordelia is funny and great and let's see what she'll do next," and even when I disappoint them or deny them candy/room on my lap/the inexaustible supply of love that only their parents can provide for them, they never hold it against me for long. I get the sense that this isn't something most stepmothers can claim, and even when I'm exhausted or migrained or overwhelmed, I'm always grateful for it. Back atcha.

2 comments:

Boy and Girl's Mom said...

You're totally right: they do love you to pieces. I am most grateful that you're so nice to them and love them back. I take none of this for granted.

Cordelia said...

MUCH appreciated. Which isn't to say it isn't hard for everybody sometimes--else what would we have to talk about?--but there's a nice hardy foundation.