I am certainly not going to sound like a good mom for saying this, but here goes. About 90 percent of the time I hate playing board games with my 4-year-olds. I AM the Old Maid of children’s board games. Let me follow by saying I think most board games are excellent for their development and provide a lot of enjoyment (until one of them loses). I would never consider depriving them of these games. I’m always happy we have done it when it is over, but the suffering during play is damn near intolerable.
Maybe part of my problem is that I am a rule follower. I’ve talked to some moms who let the kids cheat. Not me. If I catch them trying to cheat, they will be penalized. Perhaps this makes it harder on me, because I can’t just sit back and let things happen. But, I’m thinking if they play the same game at someone else’s house, I don’t want them to cheat there, so I can’t let it happen in our own house. Not to mention, I am a firm believer that rule following is a very important skill for children.
Of course this may often lead to crying—usually by my son, who cries every time he loses. That leads to us sending him away, because “we don’t want to play with a sore loser.” He’s getting better, and will even choke out the words, “good game” from time to time.
Here are the games we play most and why I find myself encouraging them to just watch television for a while.
Chutes & Ladders. I’d almost rather land on a chute that would take me to the gates of Hell than play this game. It never ends! If you are not familiar, this game has 100 marked spaces. On the board there are ladders that connect lower numbers to higher numbers so you advance quickly if you land on a space with the bottom of a ladder. It also has chutes that connect the higher numbers to lower numbers, which can send you plummeting down 30 spaces at times. Of course, we make it harder on all of us by implementing a rule that if they can tell us the number they landed on, they get to move ahead one space with no penalties if they land on a chute. They can now name every number from 1-100, except 11 through 19. I know these numbers don’t make sense, and I try to be patient. But, here’s a scenario:
Me: What number is that? (14)
Me: Good guess, it’s 14. (Pointing at the 14) What is that number?
Child: Uuuuhhhhh. 24?
Me: No, I just told you. Do you remember?
Child: Oh, 89. No, 38? No, 56?
Me: It’s 14. Can you say 14?
Me: Okay, what is that number (pointing to the 14).
Me: Okay, it’s Daddy’s turn.
Child: Do I get to move ahead because I got it right?
Candyland. Once the kids learned which direction to move their game piece (apparently a skill not yet developed at age 3), it became tolerable. However, if the game carries on too long, you have to start slipping out the cards with the candy on them. Oh, by the way, while I am a stickler of rules, they don’t apply to me in children’s games. Mommy = Double Standards. Also, this game lead to an addiction to twizzlers and gumdrops.
Hi Ho! Cherry-O. If you plan for a couple of cherries to end up going through the air vents in the floors each time you play, you’ll run out after a few times and won’t ever have to play again.
Hungry Hippo. Seriously? Because more noise in the house is exactly what we need. Thank goodness the baby came along. Choking hazard was a great excuse to retire that one.
Zingo. There are different forms of this game, but the one we have has tiles that go from zero to 12. Once again, recognizing the numbers 11 and 12 is challenging, so we have the Chutes and Ladders conversation a few more times. And, even when they know the number on the tile, they count every object in every space, so it’s a good 5 minutes before someone yells out the number on the tile. It could be a “1” and they will count the space with 12 fish. “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 … No, that’s not a 1.”
Old Maid. They don’t seem to understand that we know the card they put closest to us or highest is the Old Maid. We are not going to pick it. Then, there is the look on their faces when they pick the Old Maid from someone else. Ha! I will highly encourage them to put off playing poker for a few more years.
I assume my parents suffered through board games with me and my brothers when we were young, because it is one of our favorite family activities now. Every time we get together, there is always a card game or board game going on. I want that same thing when my children are grown and have their own families. This is just the price I have to pay, I guess.
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