Cora glanced at her watch and realized that the kids would be arriving within the hour. "Yes Obi, they'll be here soon," she voiced to the dog, who excitedly followed her into each room as she gave the whole of the house a final look over. "Guest room, Check! Snacks, Check! and... dare I say, Games, Check!" and Obi's prancing with incessant tail wagging seemed to indicate full approval.
The idea of having to entertain the kids always made her experience a tiny anxiety blitz. "I need to get this perfect," she told her sister a few days ago on the phone as she paced through the toy aisles at Target. "Can you relax? You act like you're getting a visit from the Queen." Cora firmly reminded her sister that she may be the mom but that her own role goals were to be the fun, cool Aunt. Her nephews were visiting for the weekend, and she had spent the last few days preparing to make sure that this weekend would be a memorable one. "What do they like to play anyway," she asked her sister. "Well, that depends. Do you want to sacrifice your own sanity for THEIR sheer pleasure, or would you like to play something you can ALL enjoy?" It sounded like a trick question because in what crazy world would she choose anything other than the latter?
It seems like a no brainer to choose the latter, sure, but in the world of parenting, we find ourselves either lying to our kids or ourselves when participating in playtime. Okay, lying may be a bit harsh. Let us alternately use the term "pretend," which seems more suitable for the topic either way.
Something seems to happen between that adorable age of playing peek-a-boo, and let me just throw out a number... let's say age 10. Peek-a-boo is a game parents choose to play of their own free will in hopes of coaxing a reaction of melt-your-heart baby chuckles and excitement. Who hasn't gotten stuck on a video loop listening to baby laughter? My favorite video being the one of The Rock with his baby girl. Both of them... too cute!
Baby turns into a toddler, and parents become fascinated by placing block shapes into their respective holes, celebrating with applause after every successful try. It's quite the phenomenon that all parents seem to share. Then the inescapable happens; Toddler evolves into a school-aged kid that now wants, as in my case, superhero action figures, dinosaurs, and Star Wars Tie Fighters. "It's just not as fun as it used to be," my husband and I confess to each other. A secret we agreed to take with us to the grave. "I hate playing make-believe," gripes the hubby as I find ways to dodge the children, opting to fold three baskets of laundry over another round of the Hulk versus whatever they can throw at him.
Another year or two pass, and kid-ish board games begin to pique their interest. Hungry Hippo, Chutes & Ladders, and Candyland sent the hubby and me hiding for cover, willing to throw each other under the kid bus. "Daddy said he'll play with you as I finish this (fill in the chore)" I would offer him up to the kids. I'm not happy with what I've done, but times like that would call for survival-of-the-fittest tactics. We were at war, but the kids had no clue.
You're sitting there reading, and you probably fall into one of two categories. You're either judging me for not enjoying playtime with my kids, or you are relieved that others feel the same as you do. Of course, I'm hoping for a sense of camaraderie between us. The beauty of this though, is that kids continue to grow, and their interests continue to change, which was our saving grace.
We realized that we needed to take control and strategize. We always expose our kids to new foods and experiences, so why wouldn't we do the same with games? But we needed to be stealth about it. The hubby and I began having "adult" game nights, and no, not in the dirty way. We'd set out the Scrabble board, Jenga, Chess, or even Uno in the family room. These are some games WE enjoy. They would hear and see us having fun and wanted in. We'd initially tell them no, because as kids, they always want what they can't have. Remember that reverse psychology bull we'd always hear about? Well, it works. Now, the boys enjoy a good game of Chess, even researching strategies online to help them get better because their ultimate goal now is to beat us. But mostly to beat their dad. Don't fret though, we do succumb at times and play an excruciating game of Cheaters Edition Monopoly or Beyblade. And yes, with those we PRETEND to have fun the whole way through. (Confession...every so often I do get into a good Beyblade competition).
Back to Cora and her two options. She and her sister reviewed many of the games on the shelves that would be an excellent compromise for both kids and adults. They played games, made cupcakes, walked Obi, and watched movies that weekend. It was perfect for the boys, for Cora, and even for Obi. She retains her crown as Best Aunt!
Here are some of our favorites. Please share with us which games your family REALLY enjoy together.
We're all up for a good game of Scrabble. I received this Tile Lock version for Christmas last year because playing with kids and their clumsy little hands would have us spending a lot of time adjusting the grid. Now we play worry free.
I gifted the hubby this set last year as well. Great minds think alike! The board and pieces are beautifully carved, plus the board is a storage carrying case for all the pieces.
This Cheaters Edition seems to the most fun of all the others. Highly recommended if you're a fan of the Monopoly franchise.
Just like Pringles, you can't have just ONE game of UNO... (pun intended). We usually go for 4 or 5 rounds, and have no mercy on one another, skipping and reversing every step of the way. Not even the kids are safe.
Jenga makes even the adults feel like kids again. It traveled with us to a cabin getaway and everyone wanted in on it. We purchased a Fortnite version, but nothing beats the original.
Like Chess, Go is a 2 person game of strategy. This one is enjoyed in our home, but still searching for other folks that would enjoy it, or at the very least, heard of it.
I couldn't fine a personal photo of us playing Pictionary Air, but we enjoyed this one during the holidays. Yes, you guessed it... we gifted this game to my niece for Christmas. What can I say, we're a family of "gamers".