Gracie’s Rules

“Clock tower beats toilet,” she says. “But what about a late man? He can turn back the clock and hit the toilet with a hammer,” her friend says. “One, two, three – SHOOT!”

The last time I played with Gracie I had the pleasure of being introduced to Gracie Rules. Unimaginable to the creators of Uno, she had formed her own unique structure of rules by which no one could win but her. I saw a red “+2”. She saw an opportunity. “Dad, that means you have to draw two and I get to get rid of two,” she said. “Then you have to press the Uno button twice.” Out shot another six cards to add to my stack. I tried to argue but she would have none of that. “Dad – I KNOW the rules. I played this with Grandma,” she said. That about makes sense, I thought. Grandma cheats too. I checked the rules only to suddenly remember that the game was called “uno.” Of course it could have also been called “un” because in checking the rules all I could find were the Spanish and French translations. And there was no way I remember either from high school language classes. We played on. She played a card with an arrow and the number two. “That means I get to discard all my cards except two,” she added. Clearly there was no chance I could win.

Tonight as we drive home Gracie’s playing rock, paper, scissors with her friend in the backseat. Only this time, I guess it is called “clock tower, toilet and late man.” Even the simplest games take on new meaning when you play against Gracie. Thankfully her friend is no different. He’s eight too and making up your own rules is a rite of passage. Probably comes with attitude.

Gracie wins again – that’s at least what she tells him. He’s getting visibly upset now. I know how he feels. “What about the bomb?” he asks while making an upside down explosion sign with his left hand. “That’s what this means and a bomb beats the clock tower.” “No, no, no,” Gracie replies, “that’s why I did the sign for a man eating bug. A bug lives through the bomb and wins.” I look back. Her hand motion looks mighty like a clock tower if you ask me. Her friend folds his arms in a huff. I agree with him here too. If I had a bomb, I’d be a bit upset by getting beat by a bug – or a red “+2” card.

Finally my wife is the voice of reason. “Yeah, but I had a toddler eating chalk,” she says while making a motion with her hand to her mouth. “And you know a toddler can mess up everything.” OK, maybe not the way I would approach it, but it had a chance. His hands unfold and they’re at it again, this time with a common enemy in mom and her toddler eating chalk. Suddenly the rules change again and the game plays on. Gracie’s way – Gracie’s rules.

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