Raising a kid is hard. They rely on you for EVERYTHING. You are the keeper of their food, shelter, moral values, entertainment and sanity. If you fail to set them up with the proper foundation, they aren’t given the best start in life that all kids need and deserve.

It goes without saying that playing the role of their “everything” can be tough, but it can also be quite fun. It’s all about how far you are willing to go. My mom was willing to go quite far. But I’m sure she never thought, the saying “this hurts me more than it hurts you” would end up being so true.




My mom was big on family time. Maybe big is an understatement. She was more so obsessed with it. She would come up with anything to get the three of us (she, my sister and I) to have fun. As kids, it was common for us to go to theme parks, camp in the backyard, play sports (such as baseball, basketball, tennis, etc) go to the movies and hang out in the downtown area until 3am. 


If weather prevented us from going out, that was still no match for my mom’s will and imagination. We would play board games, have dance contests, gamble on a game of Uno (yes, gamble) and make music videos with her camcorder and karaoke machine.


Her entertaining, off the wall games were fun and highly enjoyable. She made sure there was never a dull moment in our household. If we weren’t doing something fun, she still made sure to keep us busy. 


We helped her spread the concrete to lay our new driveway, pulled up tile off the floor and replaced it with new ones, painted the exterior of the house and even helped cut down trees in the yard. My mom didn’t believe in hiring unnecessary help. In her mind, she was married with 2 employees (I meant kids) and she was going to get things done.


I had no issues with it though, because most of it was fun. Cutting the grass and basically remodeling a whole house weren’t my happiest moments but still, overall fun. 


That’s just how things were. My mom wasn’t the traditional parent and it showed. For instance, she always insisted we called her by her first name because she said hearing us say “mom” so often was annoying. She also tried to get us all matching tattoos when I was 12 and my sister was 17. However, the tattoo guy refused. He said, even with a parent’s consent, he preferred us to be 18 (thank God). Even though, I would have gotten totally “tatted up” if he let me, looking back, I’m glad he didn’t allow it. 


Her fun-filled antics didn’t end there. Some of the most memorable were the drinking game (water, not alcohol) and wrestling (seeing who could win between my sister and I). I learned early that drinking too much water could make you nauseous and that although my sister is 5 years older than me, I was quite strong. 


Most of our activities were centered around what could get us the most laughs or be the most competitive. Typically, there was something special for the winner. Sometimes it was money, other times candy, but usually something. 


I was enjoying the pace of everything and she didn’t have to find more inventive fun for me, but one day, she created the game of all games. I will never forget the joy that took up residence in my heart, when I heard the rules. It was called “The Punching Game”.


The concept was simple. We played cards and the winner of that round got to punch the loser(s) under the foot as hard as they could.


Were you thinking we punched each other in the face? Of course not, we are only a little crazy, not fully unhinged!


Anyway, I knew hands down (and fists up for this occasion) that this was going to be my favorite game. I also knew that I would always be the champion. And guess what? I was right.


Do you know how many times as a kid you wanted to slap your parent(s) after they’ve spanked you or punished you for something that you felt was unfair? You mean to tell me my mom was now giving me the green light to punch her so hard she couldn’t walk straight? God had been listening.


The game started slow. No real power behind any punches and tons of laughing on my sister and I’s end at the luck we had. I lost a round or two, but it didn’t take long before I was winning at almost every hand. 

After around 15 minutes, I was tired of this child’s play, delicate version. The waters had been tested and my mom was seriously allowing this to happen. Time to set a fire to my fist if I won the next hand. 

The cards were dealt, bids were exchanged and once again…I won.

Ready to claim my victory punches, I hit my sister under the foot once at a medium (but light pressured) speed. Now, it was my mom’s turn.

I rubbed my hands together, then practiced a few punches in the air. I wanted to get my angle just right.

Mom - “Oh Lord, what was that?”

Nicki - “Just practicing. Want to get my aim straight.”

Mom - “What was I thinking coming up with this game?! Come on child, get it over with!


Taking a deep breath. I summoned the rage of all children, drew my fist back as far as humanly possible and swung forward with the force of all the irritation and annoyance I’d ever had and released the Kraken.


"OUCH!!!!" she yelled, while I laughed.

Instantly my mind flooded with questions and excitement at my luck.

  1. How could someone set themselves up this way?
  2. Who would let their kids punch them as a game? 
  3. Why hadn’t she come up with this earlier? 

All great questions, but none of them mattered now because no one could stop me! I was still laughing and so was my sister. It didn’t take long for my mom to join in, as the laughter was contagious (please ignore how insane we are). 


Mom: “You got me good, just wait until I win the next round.”


But lucky for me, no one won for the rest of the night, but me! The winning and punching cycle continued for what seemed like hours. Numerous times she pleaded for me to skip the punches that I owed her, but I wasn't hearing any of it. 


I even skipped punching my sister and went straight for my mom. I was a kid… with the metaphorical belt and no one was stopping me. Did I get a little power crazy? Yes. I didn’t know when I would get a chance like this again. I had to put all my eggs in one revenge basket and go for it. 


Eventually, my mom did tell me we would be wrapping up the game in a few rounds. I think she played so long because she was hoping she would win a few rounds and get to punch me back.  However, I guess fate wasn’t on her side because as I said earlier, no one else won for the whole night except me.


Even in the midst of having the worst losing streak ever, I applaud my mom. She took her punches like a champ and laughed the whole time. She thought it was hilarious how focused I was to punish her and no one else. We all had a good time. It was a good night. I came out soaring and my mom just came out sore.




I know we sound crazy, but who cares. Well, maybe we are, but we had fun. Because of all my mom’s unique games, I truly, truly enjoyed my childhood. I have always looked forward to being in the company of my family. They mean the world to me and our endless entertainment for one another is just a bonus.


It just goes to show that kids can be entertained by basically anything. As long as they have their parents (or those that they love, who also love them), they will be happy. It’s not always about what you have, but who you have. 


Remember to think of this when you are down. Memories are made by people, not things. I am thankful for each and every person in my life and my goal is to follow in my parents footsteps and teach my kids the same thing.



Nicki GraceComment