Lately, my four-year-old son has been asking to play that classic board game, “Life.” For a while, I pushed back. Too hard for a little boy. Too many pieces. Too many big words and ideas he would not understand.
But he kept pushing.
“Please?” he begged. “Can we just try it?”
Well. You’ve gotta admit: His can-do spirit is downright admirable. What sort of parent would I be if I quashed it?
Below, seven things you’ll hear from a four-year-old when he challenges you to a game of Life:
He informed me of this when I came back to the game for my turn, having left the room briefly for a glass of water.
“How do I have 2?” I said. “I should only have one.”
“You got married at the stop sign,” he said. “But then you ran into another stop sign, so I gave you another husband.”
“The second stop sign doesn’t mean I get married again,” I said. “It means I buy a house.”
2. “I want this house! I think it’s on a farm!”
He was looking at pictures of three houses with three different price tags, and he was smitten by the one with the picture of a cow and a milking bucket on it, owned, naturally, by Eula B. Milken Realty. The house cost $160,000.
I told him he’d have to give up paper money of various colors to do it.
He didn’t like that idea.
I explained to him that the ramshackle two-story cost less than the farm house, which meant he wouldn’t have to give up as much money.
“But I want to go home to the farm every day,” he said with disdain.
“Okay, then let’s buy it,” I said. “You’ll still have money left over.”
3. “I don’t want a house. It costs too much money.”
My young son was proud of his hard-earned cash as an athlete.
I told him it was probably a good idea to buy a house. As an athlete, he had plenty of money to do it.
He wasn’t swayed. So I tried to explain the house-buying process in the context of his earning coins for his pigg ybank that he could later use to buy toys.
“You know how you save up coins in your Colts helmet piggy bank for when you want to buy a toy?” I asked. “You have to spend your coins to get the toy. You lose some coins, but you get a really cool toy. To buy the farm house, you have to spend some of your money. You lose some money, but you get a really cool farm house.”
“Okay, okay,” he said with a sigh. “I’ll buy the farm house.”
4. “I don’t want a little girl. I want a boy.”
“In real life, you don’t get to choose whether you have a boy or a girl. You get what God gives you. The square you landed on says you have twins. And you got two girls.”
5. “What is a stock?”
“I’ll tell you later.”
6. “Mom, this game of Life isn’t really like real life.”
“I don’t get to spend any of my money in this game on toys. And that’s what I want to spend all of my money on, on toys. In this game, I don’t have any toys. But in my real house, I have lots of toys.”
We each had a pile of colorful cash before us. Counting money at the end of a Life game requires a bit of strategical mathematical thinking yet unlearned by a 4-year-old. Our totals would each be in the millions.
He can count to 50 without help.
“Sure,” I said. “You win.”
“Yes!” He pumped his hand in the air.