At times, the depth of my parental strategizing makes me feel I am in the most intense board game ever. A game where I am never sure if I am winning or if I will ever win!
Let me set the table for you. It has become a tradition in our house that on one weekend morning we do a “big breakfast” with the kids. They pick between French toast, waffles or pancakes, we make eggs, sausage and hash browns, and have a nice big feast. On this morning, pancakes had won out and my youngest, Hazel, chose a unicorn for her pancake shape. Now I am old school in my pancake shape design. I am acutely aware of other more refined techniques to help create a better Mickey Mouse shape, yet I like to use a simple 1/3 measuring cup and a steady hand. The end result far from perfection, but fun and close enough.
I make a pretty decent unicorn pancake and scoop it off the pipin’ hot griddle. Here is where strategy comes in. Hazel’s plate is already full of syrup and a pancake, so I can’t just slap the unicorn on top. However, if I put this awesome unicorn on top of the other pancakes waiting to be devoured, it will surely get ripped apart by a sibling or just eaten by them all together. What to do!!? I had to think fast, since I was also starving, so I grab a paper towel and place it next to her plate.
Then I got to work on mass consumption. Hazel eats and eats and finally saving the best for last, picks up her unicorn. It wasn’t till breakfast was done, plates cleared and I approached to wipe down the table that I see the error in my ways. Staring at me is this little white fox-shaped ghost. Stamped into the table for eternity. A reminder of a well-intentioned decision and a monster unintended consequence.
I learned the lesson of a hot mug on a wood coffee table when I was 9. I was even reminded of this exact lesson a few months earlier in listening to a story my brother had told. Yet here I was. I guess in life, and finances, you can’t expect yourself to make the best choices all the time, especially given the pure number of choices that have to be made daily. You can learn from your mistakes, and even that is not a guarantee that the same mistake won’t happen again down the line. Whether it’s the one click Amazon impulse buy at 10:00 pm, the missed dollars spent in your flex spending account or heat burning a unicorn into the most visible part of your kitchen table, give yourself a break. In the end, you can’t win ‘em all.
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