When I was a young, innocent, kind child, my family decided that I was old enough to be corrupted.  They introduced me to the game of Spoons.  You may have heard of this game.  We use a deck of cards (face cards, Rook card, Uno cards … any deck will do).  The dealer deals out all the cards evenly to each player.  In the middle are spoons.  The number of spoons is exactly one less than the number of players.  Each round begins with each player passing one card to the left.  The passing of one card to the left continues until someone has four of a kind.  Once you’ve collected four of a kind, you grab a spoon.  The person left without a spoon is out.

The rules are simple, but the play is almost lethal.

My family is very competitive.  The boys are tough and the girls have claws.

There are many tactics in this game.  Some try to quietly take a spoon when they have four of a kind.  When that person is quiet enough, play continues.  Sometimes others notice and quietly take a spoon too.  But as soon as everyone realizes it, all hell breaks loose.

Others’ tactics are vicious.  Us boys would generally throw a block like we were making a hole for a running back to pass through.  Other times we’d throw a forearm at the person next to us, catching him in the chin … because you really only have to beat one person!

The sisters, on the other hand, were like cats and string.  If you meekly reached for a spoon, they’d strike at you with the force of a tiger.  Instead of pulling back a spoon, you’d have a mangled, bloodied hand.  I still have scars from that game.

We’d usually play Spoons at the table … it was easier to wash blood off the table than it was to get it out of the carpet.

Every physical action caused an emotional reaction.  The fun part of the game was aftermath.  Each round would be replayed like a controversial football call.  But there were no refs and there were no rules about taking spoons by force.

Of course my Dad encourged this kind of play.  He was an old-school dad.  If the boys (or girls) got into unresolvable arguements, it wasn’t the person who was the fast talker or best reasoner who won the argument.  Rather it was the best boxer.  Yep … our family spats were settled with boxing gloves.

When the yelling reached a fevered pitch, Dad would escort the two parties out to the back yard, strap on gloves and then start the match.  The last boy or girl standing won.

Miraculously, our family survived this form of parenting.  I guess we got to the point that we either hated being bloodied or we hated having to bloody up our own sibling.  If we didn’t really want to duke it out, then we’d settle our arguments with a handshake (or we’d decide not to argue at all).

Maybe my Dad knew something about parenting after all.

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