I have a confession to make. I don’t like to play long board games, like Risk, for example. I will play Scrabble, however, and playing games with large groups is fun. But usually, I avoid long board games.
My boys learned how to play Axis and Allies, but that requires many hours, and they just don’t have (or take) that kind of time anymore. Their time is taken up with academics, sports, and other activities.
(I do know that many teens seem to have the time, though, since they have time to spend on their phones, watch TV, and play video games….)
When I was young, I played many, many games of Monopoly, as well as Clue, a game called PayDay and several others. My cousins (the only cousins I had in the U.S.) taught my siblings and I how to play Risk when we were kids, on one of the very few visits we had together when young. In college, when I was on a study abroad semester in London, we played many card games as a group. As a young adult I enjoyed Balderdash and it was hilarious. I remember laughing so hard.
My kids are older now and the board games stay mostly piled up on a shelf. A few are used, but not that often. My older son has so many other things he is doing and prefers to do. On a rare occasion, will he play a game. My younger son is more interested, but there is usually no one around to play a game with. When my daughter is visiting from college, she will oblige and play a game, and sometimes my older son will join in.
My daughter and I love to play word games. We’ve played many games of Boggle and Scrabble through the years. She is a huge competitor of mine and often beats me now. The kids and I also have played Scattergories through the years. My youngest son also likes word games but my middle son – not so much.
My youngest son asked me to play Monopoly last night. I agreed. Monopoly, nowadays to me, is in the category of a long game, and most of the time I respond by saying, “I’ll play anything – but Monopoly!” Maybe it’s because I usually am not in the mood for that game and get bored with it. But, yesterday, I said yes to Monopoly. The box has long been dilapidated and discarded; we only have the game board and all the tokens, plastic houses and hotels, property cards and monopoly money stored in a ziploc bag. At least the most important parts survived. 🙂
I bought properties, almost every property I landed on. And so did he. We bought some houses. I went to jail, then had to get out. I had to pay the luxury tax of $75 three times. I landed on free parking once; so did he, and took the loot that was piled up there. He had to pay me $200 rent for Boardwalk with a house. But then, he obtained a card that allowed him to buy houses and hotels for cheap and piled them up. He bought both utilities and I had to pay ten times the amount shown on the dice – twice! So of course, eventually, after landing on St. James Place, which had a hotel, I was wiped out of cash and mortgaged some of my properties. That ended the game. It was 9 pm and time to end it anyway. 🙂 But he was so pleased that I played with him and thanked me. Thanking me… well, that broke my heart a little. (Of course, I want to spend time with you. I love you!) And this is the way he sees it…. But so often, I’m too busy with other things.
Though I am often reluctant to play games, especially longer ones, I see that it brings a simple joy to someone else. It tells that person, “I care about you. I’m interested in what interests you. I want to spend time with you. You are important.”
That is the simple message of spending time with someone. It made me happy to see him get involved in the game and get excited about collecting rent, buying properties, and wiping me out with the hotel rent – and just have simple and pure fun. That made it all worth it. What is an evening of my time?
I may be imperfect in parenting and will continue to make mistakes. But, I do know this was – and is – important. This is true for any season, any time of year, and any time of life.