Monday, July 9, 2012

The Evolution of Family Game Time


It all started with Peek-a-boo. I repeatedly covered and uncovered my face with blankets and burp rags until one day, as drool trickled out of our firstborn’s smile, I realized family game time had been established!

Peek-a-book gradually gave way to finger plays like Five Little Monkeys and Pat-a-cake. But they definitely loose their charm after 472 sing-songy verses.

A caricature of my "game face."
When, our toddlers were beyond chewing game pieces I introduced them to “A sweet little game for sweet little folks”—Candy Land. That colorful candy lined maze which leads to a confectionary dream land, the likes of which could make Willie Wonka blush.

Unfortunately, I did not realize the speed of play would be like trudging through the Molasses Swamp. Just as one child would near the end of the maze and come gloriously close to Cupcake Castle, he would draw a “picture card” leading him all the way back to Candy Cane Lane. Sweet victory had slipped away from one player, and for the other player, delirium continued indefinitely.

I got clever after a while and took to stacking the deck—arranging all the picture cards in order to avoid the tears…mine and theirs.

When the sugar high wore off and good sense returned, I purchased that entertaining teacher of life lessons, Chutes and Ladders. That’s right kids, if you mow the lawn, you’re going to the circus later! But if you break a window you’ll be dumping your piggy bank. Take out the garbage and get a banana split! Pull the cat’s tail and end up with a bloody head.

It’s really an introductory course to the school of hard-knocks dressed up as child’s play.

Instead of stacking the deck, I found myself tilting the spinner to avoid the infinite climbing and sliding.

But then came that marvelous day when UNO made it’s debut at family game time. It’s not terribly sophisticated, but it was a game we could all play, even enjoy. Plus, there is a definite end to the game…unless the kids insist on “going for second and third…and fourth…”

This week I realized family game time has taken an inevitable turn.

The games have moved outdoors. More often than not I get knocked out of Knock-out. But from the sidelines I can still referee and monitor fair play.

When I glanced out the window today I saw the three boys with their ball caps and gloves playing catch. It occurred to me that family game time had come full circle.

They were playing without me.

I was not initiating the game, not cheating to control the outcome, not poking my eyes out in boredom, not explaining winning strategies, not monitoring fair play and not playing.

For a brief and precious moment I relished the display of brotherly cooperation and enjoyed family game time as a spectator.



1 comment:

  1. what a wonderful moment. I think those are the ones that people are really meaning when the say "cherish everything because they grow up too fast." I am sure they dont mean cherish the moments when your kids are throwing a fit because they are not getting exactly what they want. Cherish the moments when they play together quietly without destroying something.

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