There are parenting tasks I'm good at, sometimes smugly so. I can talk the boys out of their bad dreams. I can handle sibling squabbles. I can be a stickler for politeness. I can sing songs and read books. I soothe boo-boos and give piggyback rides.
But there are other things that I am just flat-out bad at. Preschool games, for instance. Much like bathtime, playing games like Chutes and Ladders and Memory is one of those parenting things I thought would be wonderful and lovely, but in reality is dull and tedious. I have zero patience for these games. The kids grab and shove, scattering the pieces and my nerves. Their fumbling attempts to count spaces infuriate me as much as their gloating when they win and whining if they lose. I shout. I am sarcastic -- to my 4-year-old, who then says, "I'm just trying my best, Momma." And then I feel about two inches tall and have to apologize for my bad behavior. Five seconds later, I'm harping at him to JUST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LISTEN. (The 2-year-old already has been banished from the game table for his own good.)
It's not pretty and I'm not proud. I'm trying to be better, but I'm also trying to find things we can do together other than these inane games. When I was in school, I did anything I could to avoid gym class. I was bad at athletics and got sick of the frustration -- for me and for my teachers and classmates. Ironically, one of the things I'd rather do with my boys now instead of these stupid board games is play ball outside. Or blow bubbles. Or draw with sidewalk chalk. Or play with cars. Or play with play-dough. Or draw pictures. Or build with blocks.
There are plenty of things I'm good at as a mom. Chutes and Ladders just isn't one of them.