My youngest son and I recently went to buy a new game for the family to play together. It’s been a while since we bought a game and he and my Cute Little German Mother wanted Trouble, or Mench Ärgere dich Nicht, as she calls it. My mom said that she used to play it all the time with her family when she was a little girl. It seemed to bring back fond memories for her, of a time in her life that she seems to like to speak about more now than when I was little. So, we brought the game home and set it up for a round – me, my son and my Cute Little German Mother. We were laughing and joking and having a great time and I thought to myself, “Why haven’t we been playing more family games the way we used to?” It didn’t take too long to remember why. It seems that Trouble lived up to its name. It brought out a side of my mother that I hadn’t seen in a while. I landed on her space and bumped her back to her home space. Well, I had to, she was winning. She slapped my hand. Then she got me out, tossing my game piece toward my home space and announcing, “Good-bye.” It was still cute for a while, until she got stuck in her home space and couldn’t roll a six to get back out. She got madder and madder, eventually saying that when she played as a child, you could roll three times to get out. “But Oma, that’s not the rules,” said my usually diplomatic 11-year-old. “Vell, den I’m not going to play dis any more,” she said. She did keep playing, though. Soon she rolled six after six and beat us both. That seemed to perk her right up. Ironically, when translated, the German version of Trouble means, “Don’t Get Mad.” We have played it together quite a few times since then, often including my daughter and nephew when they are both at the house. Those two are a riot. My daughter always wins and I can see my nephew envisioning his hands around her throat by the time they're through. We have had a good time overall, but I’ve been reminded that if Oma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. So, I have to avoid landing on her spaces if a win seems to be necessary for the good of the family. We all have to make sacrifices, right? She wants to bring it along for our annual, family trip to a cabin in Concan, near Garner State Park. “Vee need to take dis to Garner,” she told me the other night. Well, OK Oma, but I must first issue a word of caution to the rest of the family. We are a competitive lot at times, and I think it’s only fair to warn the others that if they beat her at Trouble, there might not be any German potato salad. And they just might get their hands slapped, too.

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