My daughter is precocious. She was always the one chosen to give the speech at the end of the year exercises in grammar school. She was the one chosen at 16 years of age to be the manager of the entire supermarket where she expected to work only as a cashier. She was the one who after getting her undergraduate degree and spending a few years out on her own, decided she wanted to return to school to be a nurse practitioner and found enough grant money and scholarships to do it.
She was also the pretty, bright eyed, 5 year old who proudly stood among the other kindergarteners and boldly announced when the teacher held up the number “2” for all to identify, “That’s a ‘deuce!’”
We taught our kids about gambling early and we never regretted it. Gambling, like drinking, eating, and using medications, is a part of life and the sooner a child learns how to handle all of these potentially addictive behaviors the better.
We not only played Uno and Old Maid in our house, we also played Poker and Casino, Rummy and Mahjong; We not only enjoyed the tension and excitement of Monopoly and Yahtzee, but we also played craps on a green felt layout that we spread over the dining room table or on the floor. When we weren’t paying attention our kids sometimes played on this layout with their friends!
Our children accompanied us on Saturday outings to Monticello race track and Friday night church bingo sessions. At the race track the novelty of picking numbers from a scratch sheet wore off very quickly and off they’d go exploring and playing with the other kids whose parents brought them along for a day in the sun. Church bingo nights were more about Danish and hot dogs than covering numbers on a paper sheet.
They learned how to count, add, strategize, win and lose, take a risk or fold while they were very young and neither of them is the worst for it today. My precocious daughter lives in Vegas with her military husband and rarely makes a wager but enjoys it when she does. My son, in his forties, rarely, if ever, places a bet on anything.
Unfortunately, some people think gambling is categorically bad. These are often the same people who think nothing of investing a great deal of money in the stock market. The stock market is a huge gamble. Some will say that you need to be in the market for the long term to reduce the risk. Tell that to those who recently lost all of the retirement funds they had invested over the years as the stock market plunged. Life is a gamble, let’s face it. Better to learn how to handle the risks than avoid going out of the house altogether.
My wife and I continue to take pleasure in the ups and downs of gambling (we do still invest judiciously in the stock market too!) and, when the opportunity presents itself, we teach our grandkids the same things we taught our kids. Twos or deuces – there’s really not much difference.