Life lessons from a deck of cards

We’re not normal. If you’ve been reading our Akers family stories you probably already know this. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we gather around the table on a Sunday afternoon to teach the kids to play poker.

What? If this alarms you you can share those thoughts in the comments. If you know us, you know we’re weird and we like to tell each other stories for fun. It always starts with the same prompt: “So there I was…” Where can we go? Anywhere our imaginations take us.

Lately,  I’ve been having a lot of fun testing a new series. You seem to enjoy it, and you keep saying you want another Akers family story. Come with us on a new journey. As you might expect food, health, and story meet in one place.

It is Sunday after church and everyone is getting hungry. No one will be in good spirits if we don’t eat first. If you’ve ever tried to make any sense of young children who are both tired and hungry you know the effort is fruitless. We have to eat first. My husband and I slave away on some eggplant parmesan. It may not sound like the healthiest dish, but I am determined to get the family to eat eggplant. I’ve failed on every past attempt. If you know me you probably also know I’m a little headstrong, so I’m determined to keep trying.

My thought is, that for this to work, the eggplant can’t look like, well, eggplant. It is breaded in gluten-free cracker crumbs, lightly fried in coconut oil, and covered in pasta sauce stored in the freezer from a previous meal.

Nicole’s pic of eggplant parmesan

We call it lasagna. If we call half of the things we eat by their real names the kids would starve. I suppose I have passed on a wee bit of my head strong potential. This meal is a success. It’s the first time ever the family has eaten eggplant.

The older is immediately wise and pokes around the plate a little with her fork. She knows better than to say a word about what she suspects is in the dish. A smart child, she knows to keep her mouth shut about this and freely offers her plate to her younger sister who wants more. The younger eats three plates of lasagna before her eyes glaze over and she looks like she will pop. “Mommy, I would eat more, but I just can’t”.

With full bellies, we quickly clear the table so we can play cards. My husband has a collection of silver dollars in a small wooden box we use as chips. This is a family game, and no one is taking anyone’s money. It’s just a game. We could play Monopoly or Uno, which we often do, but we’re a little weird, so we play poker and the girls pick up a few life lessons.

Know When to Hold ‘em

A person can’t go through life revealing everything. It’s okay, preferred even, to keep some secrets close to the vest. If you have a juicy secret you might share it once in a while to draw people in, but a fool tells all he knows. The same is true in cards. You have to know when to hold them with a poker face. Act like everything is normal when you share your best card and take the trick. It’s life. The younger is not great with her poker face. Her expression lights up when she has a good card or a pair of something. She has a couple of good hands early on and rakes in some substantial chips.

Know When to Fold ‘em

As in life and in cards it’s important to know when to fold. Calculated risks can be a good thing, especially when they pay off. A fool goes all in when the risk is too high. A healthy assessment is in order for success. Our younger daughter doesn’t know when to fold. In the middle of the game, she becomes discouraged because she is losing more chips than she desires and she is very uncomfortable, on the verge of tears.

Know When to Walk Away

If you have a chance for a win in life go for it. It might pay off big. You also have to know when to walk away and know when to run. In life you must have discernment to know when to walk away. Otherwise, you could lose your booty. During this time the little one begins to use her chips as legos and builds some really cool cantilever designs. Clearly, she has lost interest and begins to count her money. We caution her to never count your money when you’re sitting at the table. The will be time enough for counting when the dealing is done.

We are all familiar with this Kenny Rogers song:

This is a PG family game and the lessons are still applicable. No one dies at our table, and in his final words she found an ace that she could keep. Her “ace” is a 3. The younger takes the last trick with a pair of 3’s and cleans house. Her risks pay off. She trades in for three new cards and gets a 3 for the winning pair. The older is wiser, knowing it is for fun goes all-in with a bluff and her last four chips.

The Takeaways

The game of poker is riddled with life lessons. The younger learns that a risk can pay off. The older learns that it’s hard to pull off a good bluff with people who know you really well. Quality time and a game of poker taught us a lot about life and about each other. As we pack away our chips we concede it is fun worth repeating. You can bet there will be another Akers story soon.

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