Summer always seemed so limitless and free with endless days of wonderful possibilities until boredom set in around August. One way my sister L and I combated this boredom, with or without friends and relatives, was by playing board and card games. Recall a time before the Wii or any other game station…forget about computer games and the myriad array of hand-held devices with their mind-numbing, colorful games (although I did own a super cool Merlin in the ‘70s). I’m talking about good, old fashioned cardboard and plastic board and card games. Let the games begin!
Every summer L and I would start it off by a marathon game of Monopoly which we began enthusiastically and abandoned before mid-July. This pastime may have begun during one of the first rainy days when we couldn’t go to the pool or beach. We loved that tradition until we hated it…or each other.
Stuck with only the two of us, we played all kinds of games: Uno, Bingo, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, Life, Old Maid, Clue and the list goes on. This resulted in hysterics or fights with the hurling of cards or game pieces or staring contests of more boredom when a game was played out.
We played Old Maid together, and I fervently hated losing that game! Being deemed the Old Maid was worse than any curse or insult shot at me because it meant I would end up old, ugly and alone. In protest, I ripped up the poisonous card and shoved it between couch cushions. Another time I hid the card (from a new pack), thereby deterring the game from reaching its conclusion and protecting us both from unmarried damnation.
We couldn’t play Hotels because L, a blossoming real estate tycoon, bought every property, leaving me penniless. I accused her of cheating. We couldn’t play Trivial Pursuit together because I always outsmarted her. She accused me of cheating. Listen, I did read a few cards one summer day out of boredom, but seriously, my head is filled with useless trivia. When my husband B was twelve, his brother, a good six years his senior, accused B of the same offense.
On vacations to my great-uncle A’s shore house, we played Bingo and Uno with our elderly relatives. Bingo for pennies was always a treat. Uno entertained us, too, especially when our great-aunt T mixed up the blues and greens in the dimly lit dining room, and we all laughed.
So far, on weekends, vacations or during the downtime between activities and responsibilities, B, our children and I play games. We play games enjoyed as children and games that look fun or we always wanted to own ourselves but never did. I’ll take suggestions from other parents about what games are fun and not too complex.
Yahtzee invoked defiance in my daughter E who despised using the addition she struggled with in school. As parents, we are not fans of Chutes and Ladders which, upon one false move, you need to start over. Once kids learn the art of turn-taking, the agony of waiting for them to take a turn without too much indecision substitutes the earlier issues. We rediscovered lots of fun with Uno which the kids love, and we enjoy sharing winning tricks and drowning the quick player with more cards. We just started out with junior versions of both Monopoly and Scrabble and cross our fingers for the best.
As clichéd as it may sound, playing these games together really is an ideal way, sometimes frustrating, sometimes rewarding, to spend time as a family. Along with family dinners, you discover new truths about your kids while teaching them something new and introducing them to new kinds of fun. In our house, we do love our video games but stepping back and turning off the excess of sound and moving pictures, it becomes more than just a game; it’s a memorable family experience and guilt-free way to engage the kids. Roll the dice, take your turn and tell me what gaming experiences you’ve had with your kids and what types of games do you and your kids enjoy?
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by M.B. Sanok, a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit given to Board Games Critic.