The Jenga ninja

It’s always good when I can remind my kids that I am, in fact, the most awesome person they have met.

My kids are 12 and 15, so my days of pure, unquestioned awesome are well behind me. That is particularly the case with my daughter, who at 15 is now by far the smartest person the world has ever known, and I am repeatedly one of the most foolish people on the planet. One of the most common phrases out of her mouth is “You don’t know what I’m doing!” Close second: “Daaaa-aaad!!!!”

I often do not know what she is doing. Case in point, the other day, she was making her lunch. She stood at the refrigerator with the door open. Her phone was balanced on the freezer door handle, streaming a Netflix movie. I stood behind her and watched her for a good 10 seconds.

I decided to weigh in. “Either watch your movie or get stuff out of the fridge. But not both.”

Her response? Daaaa-aaad!!!!” For good measure, she added that I did not, in fact, know what she was doing.

She is correct. I didn’t know why you wouldn’t pause the movie and actually look in the fridge for food, rather than trying to either warm up the fridge or cool down the kitchen.

My son is following well in her path. For example, the other day, he came in from playing a game of football with some neighborhood kids. By my estimate, he was covered in 43 pounds of mud. I told him to hose off before he came inside. He informed me that I, once again, didn’t know what he was doing. Unless what he was doing was planning on coating a couch in mud, then true. I don’t know.

Such is the nature of kids getting older, I suppose. My parents’ wisdom dipped dramatically during my teen years. I am very pleased to see how much smarter they got as I got older. Good for them.

But it is always nice when I can serve up the occasional reminder that as smart as they think they are, I can still perform acts that remind them that they have yet to achieve my level of awesome.

My most recent mic-drop came while playing a game of Jenga. Jenga is the game where you start with a series of blocks stacked on top of each other in a tower. You take turns removing the blocks, and the person who makes the tower fall loses.

Because my children have Gibbons DNA, games such as this are matters of life and death. My wife’s family did not see games in this light, and she is often saying things such as, “Come on. It’s just a game. Let’s have fun.” Yeah, you know what’s fun? Winning.

This particular round of Jenga was getting particularly cutthroat, with everyone making more and more dangerous moves, trying to set the next person up to lose. Except my wife, of course, who was taking the nice approach and not going for the kill every turn. Not sure what’s wrong with her.

It was my turn, and the tower was very wobbly with a single block at the very bottom supporting the whole tower. The kids were feeling pretty confident and beginning to talk some smack and predict the end of the game.

“I’m going for the bottom piece,” I said. The kids stared at me in disbelief. Removing the bottom piece would mean the entire tower would have to slam down on the table and stay erect. Impossible, they thought.

I handed my phone to my son. “Shoot a video,” I said. “You’ll want to remember this.”

I slid my hand to the tower and grabbed the bottom piece. With one quick yank, I pulled out the block, and the tower dropped, wobbling a bit but staying upright.


I looked at everyone in the room. My kids were in disbelief, my status of awesome briefly restored. My wife rolled her eyes. She does that a lot.

While I may not have them in awe of me at every turn these days, it’s nice when I can on occasion pull out some of that Gibbons magic. It’s always good to know that, even for a brief moment, I do in fact know exactly what they’re doing. They’re thinking I’m awesome. And I’ll take that.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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