I believe I have identified my least favorite part of parenting: playing Chutes and Ladders. My epiphany came about as I was playing the longest round that I’ve ever seen. It was all chutes and no ladders. Playing was like watching crabs in a styrofoam cooler: as soon as one character was close to escaping it was sent tumbling back down to the bottom.
While that most recent round was particularly tedious, I don’t like the game even when it takes ten minutes because it’s a game with no skill component whatsoever. I will confess to thinking — often — that we could determine victory by flipping a coin instead of through the interminable process of moving the game pieces in accordance with the dictates of the spinner and the requirements of the board.
That’s bad enough, but there is one more factor that evokes dread in my soul when asked to play. It is this: children young enough to truly enjoy the game are usually unable to move their characters properly, so I have to do it for them. This means I am playing the game against myself. A game I don’t like. A game whose two-player version is logically indistinguishable from a coin toss yet which has the potential to endure until the heat death of the universe. Even if I win, I lose. I lost as soon as I took the box down from the shelf.
And yet I will play today and I know I will play again tomorrow. It’s like a torment from a Greek myth. Aaargh!
My heart goes out to thoroughgoing determinists who necessarily regard all of life as a complicated version of Chutes and Ladders. If that’s you, I suggest you arrange to be fated not to think about it.