Snakes and ladders and life

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Snakes and ladders with Callum

Snakes and ladders with Callum


In recent times I’ve had the privilege of playing games of Snakes and Ladders with 2 of my 3 grandsons. The 3rd grandson Liam, lives in Canada and is only 19 months old, so together with his brother to come (due next month) will have to wait their turn. 

My first “Championship” was with my oldest grandie  Justin, who lives 1100 kms (about 660 miles) away. I was passing through so went to treat him to a drink and fries (he chose Bubblegum milkshake, I think to rub it in with his Diabetic Gramps!). The second “Champs” last week, was with 5 year old Callum who lives just over the valley from us.  

The family and friends who know me well can confirm I don’t give an inch when it comes to games or sport of ANY kind… I mean it….ANY kind! So, to have both my grandsons beat….no wait….whip me at the game was both humbling and embarrassing! Okay, so I did get a kick out of the glee in their eyes when they realised they’d beaten their competitive gramps! 

Snakes and ladders with justie

Treat and game with Justie



So I got to thinking about this game that can be such a leveler of playing fields and took this from it as regards to our lives!

  • As long as you know the rules, you all have a chance to win! Despite the fact that I had decades of life experience and ‘wisdom’ and a few more kilograms and height advantage on them, these ‘lightweights’ had a chance…and knew it!
  • If we don’t limit our belief we can win, we actually can. I don’t think for a minute in the 4 games I lost (2 to each grandie), that they thought that they couldn’t win! They were confident they could take the ‘Old man” down. 
  • The role of the dice (circumstances) really is out of your control. We can huff and puff (and yes I do as I cup the dice in my closed palm), as much as we like, but it wont change some of the things that come at us. 
  • The Ladders and snakes are right in our path. On the board these very identifiable symbols await, either to advance or drag back…and they either attract glee and joy or strike fear and disappointment, depending on which you land on. We can’t avoid them. As in life, we can try to ‘go around’ but most times we have to follow the path and ‘go through’
  • The Snakes and the ladders may affect the game, but often don’t determine the end! The number of times I got to the top row of numbers (in the 90’s) and thought I had the game wrapped up, only to slide right down again, were numerous. So close but yet so far…and for the whippersnappers, staring defeat in the face only to slide right on by and throw just the right number to reach 100!
  • Whether we hit snakes or ladders, just keep on throwing and don’t give up. I was surprised at how much more pronounced my response was to landing on a ladder or snake and how casual theirs were in the same situation. I thought with ‘age and maturity’ I would be more composed. Hahaha. However in this seemingly trivial game, both of them had this quiet confidence they could win…..and man oh man…they did!  

I learnt more than I realised whilst playing with my 2 precious grandies. Along with the lessons above was the realisation of how privileged I am to have grandies to play with and learn from. Sadly I didn’t know my grandparents at all!

Lastly in the midst of ‘the serious stuff of life’, like work and responsibilities, its great to take time out to play a meaningless…..(did I just write meaningless?)………game of snakes and ladders!

What joy!!



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