Game Playing: Take 1

Milton Bradley Chutes and Ladders game board c...

I’m trying, I really am.

A few weekends ago, at the request of my oldest daughter (7), we rearranged her bedroom. I moved all the kid’s games from the top shelf in her closet, which is hard for even me to reach, to the closet floor where they would be more assessable.

She saw CandyLand and pulled it out, wanting to play it right then. I explained now wasn’t the right time and that we’d play later. She sort of rolled her eyes at me, knowing it was a cop-out and an excuse. And the sad thing is she’s right. I could probably count on one hand the times I’ve played a game with the kids. *shameful moment*

So a few days later, the kiddos were watching TV after school and I went and got the game. I didn’t say anything, but sat down in the middle of the living room and started setting up the game. Within moments, all three of them were hovering around me, wanting to know what I was doing? “Getting ready to play a game,” I said, smiling at them.

And then chaos ensued.

The baby (2.5) started grabbing the cards and pieces, demanding they were his. My middle girl (almost 6) started whining because she didn’t want a boy piece. All three of them were sitting so close they were practically on top of the game board.

Deep breath.

I got everyone scooted back to allow for breathing room, rearranged the pieces so no one was crying before we got started, and we were off to the races. The baby didn’t have the patience to play, he just wanted to move his piece where everyone else’s was and play with the cards. The girls started to fuss about it, but I was able to explain that it didn’t matter what he did, the three of us could play.

Disaster avoided.

Three moves in and the oldest lands on a piece of licorice. If you don’t know the law of the land in CandyLand, that means you lose a turn. Well, that didn’t go over well, and sent her storming off into the bathroom in a mini crying fit. “It’s not fair,” she kept crying, but after I threatened to take the game away, she reluctantly came back out and plopped down on the floor with the attitude of a 13 year old.

We moved forward. And then the damn CandyLand gods decided they were going to make this even harder on me. Every single time I picked up a card, I moved substantially ahead. I even tried to cheat to make myself lose, but it seemed they were destined for me to win. I’d skip a turn, only move one square if I was supposed to move two, but still I ended up in the Candy Kingdom before either of the girls.

That did not go over well.

Another crying spell, and I ran upstairs to get Chutes and Ladders, thinking a change of game would brighten the mood.

I was so wrong.

We didn’t get past the first row of ladders when the middle one started trying to cheat. By the time we were on the second row, the baby had kicked the board twice, throwing all the pieces scattering and having everyone struggle to remember where they were. Which of course led to arguments and accusations.

With three kids yelling at one another and demanding the other move their piece back one space, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I stood up, grabbed the board game and shoved it back in the box.

“What are you doing?” one of them asked.

“Putting the game away,” I said in my not-so-nice-mommy voice.

“But whhhyyy?”

And then I lost it. “Why? Because this isn’t fun. You’re not having fun. You’re sister’s not having fun. Your bother’s not having fun. I’m definitely NOT having fun. Games are supposed to be fun. Apparently the McConnell family is not designed to like games!” I stormed off out of the room.

Damn. Not the best way to handle the situation.

But I’m not going to give up. I love games. Love them. And I can’t wait until they are a little bit older and can play games like Scrabble and Life and Apples to Apples. So I have to keep pursuing this. I have to learn how to handle it. I have to show them that this can be fun.

And here’s what I learned for next time…

  • The baby is not yet ready for board games. He needs to be entertained elsewhere, or he will never give us enough peace to play a game.
  • Holding him on my lap with us “playing together” does not work.
  • We need to talk more about winning and losing.
  • I need to be more aware of timing when I start these things.
  • And I think I need to take a Xanax before we begin playing.

Take 2 will hopefully happen this weekend, so wish me luck and please feel free to throw your two cents in, because believe me, I need as much help as I can get!

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10 thoughts on “Game Playing: Take 1

  1. As an avid gamer and espouser of family game night what you experienced is very familiar (read Life for recent game night that ended in attempted head-butt). Keep trying with the games: find games that are family friendly (not by topic, but as many members of the family want to play the game), find games that each person wants to play, rotate games.

    Games will be an excellent way to bond with your kids, to teach them how to be good winners and losers, some life skills such as coping with not getting what you want, and most of all have some fun.

    I am enjoying this blog, you are not a bad mom (in case nobody has told you that yet). If you want some help with some game ideas let me know.

    • Thanks Nate, and I’ll probably take you up on that offer. We have a set of SpongeBob dominoes, and even the baby (who will be 3 in November) gets the hang of those, even though he steals everyone else’s dominoes. I’ve got to get better at being calm (read take a Xanax) so that I’m not feeding into the chaos. Their ages are 7, almost 6, and almost 3, and the oldest and middle, who have always done things together are starting to get different interests. I’ve got to find something fun, thinking maybe some sort of charades type game, but the middle one can’t read yet. *sigh* Hopefully maybe tomorrow we’ll try again. Wish me luck!

      • And M told me I wasn’t a bad mom when he read my first post here, but he knows where I’m coming from, because he gets to witness the crazy first hand. But thanks for saying I’m not a bad mom, I just wish I didn’t feel like it, ya know…

      • Good luck. I know you can do it. Just stick with it and constantly ask everyone what they like and show them new games. 🙂

  2. Oh dear Goddess I hated playing board games with my kids! I had zero patience for it. None. We play games on the PS3 or 360 together sometimes but I’m very much a “this is what has to be done, this is what we’re going to do” kind of player. Both of them (at 17 and 13 – “with the attitude of a 13 year old” amused me greatly 😀 ) play smash and grab. I have to be in just the right mood to share my games. lol

    Of course, the last time my son and I played Ratchet & Clank, he got upset because he didn’t have as many guns as I do. 😀

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