"I'm playing Snakes and Ladders with Jesus, because I haven't got anyone else to play with."
Lest you think I have a super-spiritual four-year-old, I should inform you that we have a plastic Jesus figure that a friend gave Graham as a joke. If Jesus is not around to play games, the toy penguin or dog get roped in. Toby's pretty much board game crazy right now.
But usually it's Mum or Dad who gets to sit down and play endless rounds of Ludo, Three Little Pigs, or the current favourite, Snakes and Ladders. None of these are exactly challenging (although Toby is surprisingly good at winning), so you get plenty of time to ponder the deeper questions of life. Such as, what sadist designed the Snakes and Ladders board?
Oh yes, it's a very cunning design. At the bottom you have lots of lovely ladders to go bouncing up, so you get halfway up the board in no time at all and think you'll win super easily. But if you miss the mega-ladder up to 84, you then find yourself plodding through the upper middle section, with no major ups or downs. Just keep on rollin' that dice. Finally you're within sight of your goal... and there are four snakes on the top row. Believe me, you can keep looping around those top three rows for approximately two hours. With the additional threat, every time you drop down, of landing on the super-snake and slithering right back to the bottom again.
And finally, just as you really are losing the will to live, someone lands on space 80 and pops up that nifty little ladder to 100. Result!
I made a few New Year's resolutions this year, and I was thinking that trying to keep them is a little like that Snakes and Ladders game. You start off really well. You read the whole of Genesis this week and exercised every day and tidied the spare room and this is wonderful and you've just gone up fifteen ladders and it's brilliant!
Then a couple of snakes bring you back to earth and you realise it's still a long way up the board. You're managing to keep the new habits going, but it's a bit harder fitting them in and you've had to scale back to sustainable levels. Just keep rolling that dice.
And unfortunately, just as you think you've pretty much cracked it, you often do have to face a bunch of challenges. That last bit of weight just won't shift. You still find yourself yelling at the kids. Those stupid snakes keep you circling around and around.
But finally - hopefully - the perseverance pays off. Suddenly there you are on the 100 square, thinking, "Hey! I did it!" Result!