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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Story suits youngest joker at the family table

Cheryl-anne Millsap The Spokesman-Review

My 9-year-old daughter was talking about some kind of game, listing the suits in a deck of cards. And I admit I wasn’t as involved in the conversation as I should have been.

So when she said “There are hearts, diamonds, clovers and little shovels,” I shook my head.

“Wait,” I said. “What did you say?”

She listed hearts, diamonds, clovers and little shovels again.

I grinned and she noticed and asked why. So, I told her the correct names of the cards – hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades – and we laughed together. She’s such a good sport.

The next time the family was all together for dinner I repeated the story and she good naturedly shrugged off her brother and sisters’ laughter. She has to do that a lot. It comes with being the youngest, by five years, in a family of four children.

Later that night, unable to sleep, I mulled over the day, reflecting on my children and how they seem to have changed a little more each time I look at them. We’d had a nice day and I’d managed to get a moment alone, and a bit of quiet conversation, with each of them; a rare occurrence lately. I lay there recalling the bantering around the table, the teasing and shared laughter. I thought about my youngest daughter supplying her own names for the cards, and how it won’t be long before she’ll be too hip to make that kind of mistake.

I love the way children call things as they see them, before they hit adolescence and hesitate to speak out because they’re afraid of making a mistake. She’s right, you know. Clubs do look like clovers. And I was impressed that she knew that a spade was a shovel.

After such a good day with my children, a son and daughters who have started blazing their own trail, the old saying “we all have to play the hand we were dealt” crossed my mind.

It’s true.

If we’re lucky, life deals us hearts and we play for keeps. But, sadly, it doesn’t always turn out that way. I don’t know what’s in store for my children, but I do hope they win at love.

Some of us draw diamonds and are flush with wealth and material goods. Some of us aren’t so lucky.

At times we luxuriate in cool green clover and other times we fall into a pile of trouble and we need the little shovel to dig our way out.

My 9-year-old is almost 10, and soon she won’t be so willing to let us laugh at her slip-ups. There will be tears and hurt feelings and we’ll all walk on eggshells for a while.

Eventually, she’ll grow up and look closely at the rest of us and discover that she was dealt a family with its share of odd-balls. She’ll learn to tease along with the rest.

After all, there is more than one joker in every deck.

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