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CJ's First $50

April 11, 2014




My mother came to Oregon for a visit when our son CJ was ten. As many of you know, my mother is a firecracker who doesn’t suffer fools easily. It was tax season and Mrs. C. was working overtime at an accounting firm. One evening after CJ had finished his homework, he walked through the dining room and saw his grandmother playing a game of solitaire. I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation.


“Grandma, can I play cards with you?”


“Solitaire is a game played by only one person.”


“Do you know another game, one we could play together? Do you know how to play Crazy Eights, or War, or Go Fish, or Old Maid?”


My mother glanced at her grandson. “Do you know how to play poker?”


CJ shook his head.


“I could teach you, but poker is a game played for money.” She dismissed him by going back to her game of solitaire.


CJ disappeared and returned with the cigar box where he kept his birthday and Christmas money. He placed the box on the dining room table. “I have twelve dollars,” he said.


“You should have your daddy drive you to the bank so you can open a savings account and start earning interest on that money. You’re never too young to save for your future.”


My mother caught me watching and said to CJ, “I’ll teach you to play poker if it’s alright with your father.”


CJ ran up to me and asked, “Is it okay if Grandma teaches me to play poker?”


I didn’t see the harm. I really didn’t think my mother would relieve my son of his money, until she looked down her pointed nose and said in that imperious tone of hers, “CJ, you need to know that you will probably lose your money, and if you do I intend to keep it. No crying about it afterwards.”


She must have thought this a good life lesson for my son. CJ pressed a finger to his temple as he thought about it, finally saying, “Sure. Let’s play.”


My mother explained the basics of the game while I retrieved a case of dusty poker chips from the closet. Twenty minutes later they were deeply engrossed in their game. I took the pooch for a long walk, and when I returned I heard my mother say, “Just show me your cards, you little bastard!” (To this day she claims she never said this.)


“Grandma. It isn’t nice calling people names.”


“Just turn over your cards!” she snapped.


So he did. That was when I noticed the big pile of chips on the table…in front of my boy. Over the next hour CJ proceeded to clean his grandmother’s clock. At first I figured she was losing intentionally, but while observing them I saw that she was doing her best to win. Her exasperation at losing was real.


CJ had school the next day and I had to call an end to the game. In my mother’s defense, she took her beating nobly. Settling up, she reached into her purse and pulled out a fifty dollar bill. CJ had never seen one before. He examined it closely before placing it in his cigar box.


“Let’s play again tomorrow, Grandma. I like this game.”


The next evening they were at it again, my mother eager to win back her money. She was again startled by her grandson’s skill and astonishing good luck. She flew home a few days later, her wallet lighter after teaching our son a valuable lesson. That lesson—money put in the bank earns something called interest.


Not long after my mother’s departure, CJ approached me and asked, “Dad, what’s a bastard?”


I wasn’t ready to explain; we were a few years away from “the talk.” To divert him I said, “I’ll tell you later. For now, how ‘bout we play a nice game of poker?”




What a hustler!
By: PT Dilloway on April 11, 2014
Great family story. Glad CJ took the risk of playing for money....or he may not have found out about poker and all it's.....rewards!
By: Oma Linda on April 11, 2014
oh my gosh....I am laughing so hard- you can always make me giggle, but this story is above hilarious! Serves your Mom right ...oh hahahahah...snicker chortle!
By: Kathe W. on April 11, 2014
Little kids always have luck when you try and teach them a the bastard comment and I'm sure she said it. I'm stealing that cartoon and putting it on Facebook!!
By: Cranky on April 11, 2014
too funny! the story is made better just in knowing a little bit about your mother. :)
By: TexWisGirl on April 11, 2014
By: fishducky on April 11, 2014
By: The Bug on April 11, 2014
Your son is a riot! I hope he put some of his winnings in the bank -- although he'd make more if he just keeps playing grandma! lol
By: Lexa Cain on April 11, 2014
Putting money in a savings account is terrible financial advice. Better to open up a Roth IRA.
By: Michael Offutt on April 11, 2014
God bless CJ! I'm amazed that anyone every got the better of your mother. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on April 11, 2014
Your boy is as sharp as his daddy!
By: mimi on April 11, 2014
What a delightful story. Hope it didn't hook him on gambling or if it did that he remained a winner. . Loved that cartoon.
By: Akansas Patti on April 11, 2014
Great story. I was teaching a little guy to play chess. He beat me every time.
By: red on April 11, 2014
I'm glad my grandma didn't play poker. Getting trounced in a game of croquet was bad enough!
By: Val on April 11, 2014
Yeay for CJ! I may or may not have experienced a similar fate when I taught my youngest son to play chess.
By: Pixel Peeper on April 11, 2014
i love stories about your mum. thank you for another good one. :)
By: Fran on April 11, 2014
The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. I bet you felt proud too.
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 11, 2014
I'm tickled and giggly by the fact that your son had luck and karma on his side. A most amusing story, Stephen. Thanks for the cheer. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on April 11, 2014
Putting money in the bank earns something called interest? Sounds like it's a lot better idea to use it to play poker!
By: tom sightings on April 11, 2014
You paint such a vivid image of your mother.. what a hoot.
By: Hilary on April 11, 2014
When the finger went to the temple he must have been sizing her up, wondering what she might have in the pocket book.
By: Tom Cochrun on April 12, 2014
So funny! I feel I know your mother very well, after reading so much about her. And calling her grandson a 'little bastard' - Priceless!
By: Bryan Jones on April 12, 2014
Having read a lot of your posts I could well imagine your mother saying those words when she lost. Well done, CJ, and thank you, Stephen, for another great story. It's hilarious! :)
By: Sharon Bradshaw on April 12, 2014
Hilarious. And I will never play poker with your son... or your mother. The dog cartoon is brilliant. That would be me.
By: Mitchell is Moving on April 13, 2014
So you raised a hustler? Good for ya, Stephen. :) S
By: Scott Park on April 13, 2014
You should of known your mom wasn't throwing the game. The fact she called her little grandson a bastard pretty much tell us that she wasn't planning on losing. Really funny story though...did CJ grow up to be a professional gambler? Or did you win all of his winning back the following night?
By: Cheryl P. on April 13, 2014
A great story!
By: John on April 14, 2014
Your Mom sounds terrific!
By: Michael Manning on April 15, 2014

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