Among the least discussed of life’s milestones is this one – the first time your children look at you and say (explicitly or implicitly), “busted.”

It just happened.

My two oldest (11 & 9) daughters and I were playing Jenga – a frighteningly addictive “wooden block tower building game.” The simple object of the game is to pull out the lower blocks of the Jenga tower and stack them on top. Well, after my daughters headed off to do something else I kept playing just trying to find out how high a tower I could build. I got the idea by glancing at the instruction book and seeing the challenge that read, “real pros can build the tower to 36 stories or higher.” I got to 34 and proudly showed it to my girls. They were generally unimpressed so I told them I would pay them $50 if they could get the tower to 40 stories.

It was a slip of the tongue – I didn’t mean it. It was kind of a flip joke – of the kind guys regularly utter. Well their eyes lit up and I became very, very afraid. And as such I started modifying the rules. It wasn’t $50 but $40 (a buck per row) and they had to work together and they had to follow all of the rules to the letter. [I wonder if this is how the White House viewed all of those promised billions for the poor?]

When I was done Laura, the older of the two looked at me and said, “Dad, are you done?”

“Yeah,” I responded, “why?”

“Because I can tell you are nervous about having to pay up – you keep adding more and more rules to favor yourself and make it harder on me. You do that.”

I just sat blushing with both a very pleased grin at my daughter’s insight and a horrified feeling that I had been “‘busted” for the first time and that as the teen years unfold it will become a more regular occurrence.

Back to the matter at hand, I just discovered the world record for a Jenga tower is 40… do I lower the requirement to show good faith or do I let them keep on going… or, if they make it do I call Hasbro and tell them I’ve got Jenga proteges on hand?

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