The game is called “P-I-G – F-L-E-A – I-T.” It’s similar to “H-O-R-S-E” only with a unique, Gabriel-like flare.
The family and I were having one of those no good, very bad days. You know, the kind that features a full-blown rain cloud hovering overhead and the haunting sound of Eeyore’s voice resonating through every decision you make. With shoulders sagging and emotions darkened by discouragement, we all moped around the house looking like our last friend had just kicked us in the shins and boarded a plane for Siberia. We were blue.
That evening, Gabriel had had enough of the pity party and he challenged me to a game of basketball. Not wanting to be a full-blown party pooper, I grudgingly accepted the challenge and dutifully dragged myself out the door and up the hill toward the rickety goal that stands at the back of the property.
As we approached the small slab of concrete that is appropriately named “The Scotty H. Memorial Court,” the irony was thick. You see, my friend Scotty isn’t even dead. We just thought it would be funny to name the court in this way because he helped us pour the concrete. Years ago, we even took some old plastic and had a big sign painted and hung over the court just so he would know how much we love him. (Note: If you know Scotty, you know it is the perfect way to immortalize his quick wit and love for humor.)
Anyway, back to the story.
So there we were, it was the close of a no good, very bad day and we were about to play a game of basketball beneath a faded sign that memorializes a good friend with a bad joke. It was the perfect Eeyore moment.
As we started the game, it was hard to miss the one other obstacle that stood in our way – a big white bus. A few days earlier, Bryson and I had parked the old bus on part of the court. We were working underneath it and felt that it would make the perfect surface to crawl in and out. Because the bus is so long, we had to park it crossways on the concrete. It was great for working under the bus, but not so great for a good game of father/son basketball. Rain began to fall from that pesky little cloud that was following us about.
Then it happened! (Cue the music and the Hallelujah Chorus!) Like a ray of brilliant light piercing the darkness and illuminating “The Scotty H. Memorial Court,” the little cloud dissipated, our spirits lifted, and the light bulb came on. “Hey! Let’s play P-I-G!”
We laughed. We giggled. We made crazy shots and I soundly beat my 11-year-old son in a game of “P-I-G.” Just sayin’.
As I was about to turn and head back toward the house of doom and gloom, Gabriel started pleading for another round. Fresh off a big win, I was inclined to accept his challenge, but I suggested that this time we play with a different word. Gabriel’s eyes brightened at the potential of a longer game. “What about ‘H-O-R-S-E’?” he asked. “No, everybody plays ‘H-O-R-S-E.’ Let’s come up with something different, something just for us.” And, as you have guessed, “F-L-E-A” became the second round and “I-T” the round after that.
Each day after inventing “P-I-G – F-L-E-A – I-T,” Gabriel and I tried to find time to play at least part of our crazy little game. It was great! The dark cloud lifted and Gabriel actually became a worthy opponent. In fact, it is his competitive spirit which leads us to the punch line of this little story.
Here’s what happened.
Gabriel had managed to beat me in “P-I-G.” I rallied and beat him in the next round of “F-L-E-A.” In the final round, we were all tied up at “I.” You could see the anticipation in his eyes. He could smell the win. Gabriel was just one shot away from his very first victory over dad.
The taunting from my trash talk hadn’t helped me much and I, too, could smell something, but it wasn’t victory. What I was smelling was the looming potential of total humiliation at the hands of my 11-year-old. The shadow from that memorial court sign seemed to grow as my status as reigning champion seemed to fade.
It was then, at my lowest moment, that Gabriel did the unthinkable. He walked behind the goal, sandwiched the ball between his stomach and the fence, and began ascending the rotten wood. Up the backside of the old fence he went until he was standing at the top leaning out over the court. Then, as if that wasn’t challenging enough, he called it, he actually called the crazy shot. “Off the bus and in the hoop!” Gabriel declared with disgusting confidence. Then he did it. He hit the shot! My son, the 11-year-old who has never played a day of organized sports in his entire life, HIT THE SHOT! He hit the crazy shot!!
Well, the rest of the story really isn’t worth telling. Yes, I climbed the fence. No, the fence didn’t fall down! (Now, what kind of thought is that for you to have?!) No, I didn’t make the shot. Yes, Gabriel gloated. Yes, the dark cloud is back! Yes, I hate the game of “P-I-G – F-L-E-A – I-T” and I never want to play again!
Just kidding! 🙂
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
I learned a wonderful lesson that day from my 11-year-old son. Too much of life’s energy is lost when we focus on the size of the obstacles. True joy is found when we turn obstacles into opportunities.
Thank you, Gabriel, for using the bus to beat me at “P-I-G – F-L-E-A – I-T.” You make it real!
Note: Sharing these Sonny Day Devos is a great way to open doors for conversations about God and His values. Just follow these simple steps:
Print it off!
Pin it up!
Pass it out!
Prepare for conversation!