Special Needs Dad 365

The Game of Risk
Over the weekend, we played the game Risk. I have loved this game ever since I was a kid. There’s strategy, excitement, ups and downs, and a bunch of luck involved. The goal is to have your armies overcome your opponents’ and occupy all the territories on the map. After we were done playing and two of us were firmly defeated by Hailey, I started thinking about how our life has been and is much like Risk.

When the game first starts, each player is dealt cards to see where to place their armies. When kids are born, you have no idea the hand they or you will be dealt. After rolling to determine who goes first, a player challenges another player to try to conquer a territory. For that moment, it is head to head battle and the outcome is settled by the luck of the dice. Each of us rolls the dice with a new job, a relationship, or moving to a new city. The risk seems that much higher with a delicate and complicated child.

Ever since Livy has been born, we have rolled the dice to overcome some type of health issue or to move past another obstacle. It feels like we are competing against an opposing player who is trying to stop our every move. Sometimes it’s epilepsy and medication side effects. Sometimes it’s cerebral palsy. Other times, it’s insurance companies or technology that has not advanced far enough. We never know how our turn will end, but we do know we have to make a move to progress.

During the game, the tide often changes. Strategy is used to try and get the upper hand. One player can overtake wide swaths of territory only to lose them the next turn. There is a definitive high and low mentality that accompanies the change of fortune. I have lost count of the emotional highs and lows that we have endured over the course of Livy’s life. Despite our concerted and well conceived plan of action, she takes two steps forward and one step back. Unfortunately, she has also taken three steps back while not moving forward at all. At times, she has regressed and lost significant ground in her journey.

The game is finally won when a player defeats the others by knocking the other armies off the territories and replacing them with his or her own. We have never made it to this point with Livy. A cure for her conditions would be that monumental achievement where we would feel that we have won. For now, we will settle for the small victories while hoping that someday, we will win the war.