Some of my fondest memories growing up were when my older brothers and sister had moved out of the house, but would return on Friday or Saturday nights and the gang would play games. This wasn’t your smoking, whiskey drinking, rock n’ roll, gambling, card-playing crowd. We’d eat pizza or popcorn and drink iced tea with classical music like Mozart, Strauss or Bach playing in the background as we played rounds of Scrabble, Boggle, Racko or Password. Sometimes it was following an episode of the Carol Burnett show or something similar. There was always lots of laughter and nothing made me happier than when I got old enough to take part in the games. When it came to Boggle, words had to be at least four letters. But when I got to be 6 years old or so, they let me join in and they bent the rules for me. I got to find three letter words and it was a big ego boost when I could blow past my older siblings in points on my three-letter words.
I’ve always wished that we did more game nights with my kids. Once in a while we play board games, but it’s not nearly as often as I’d like. Recently, one of the boys played Monopoly at a friend’s house and came home begging me to go buy it (we’d had it in the past, but the kids would dig into the box to play with the money and eventually there were too many pieces missing to play a game.)
Before I had the chance to buy it, he came home from his friend’s house with the game. His friend had a duplicate and since my son enjoyed it so much, he gave him his extra game – such a sweet gesture! My boys have taken a liking to it, but it’s a game that can go on forever and they rarely get too far into it before getting bored or distracted or having to go to bed.
This past week, they sat down and played a game with dad while I did some work. As I sat at my computer, I could hear the chattering and giggles that made me remember the game nights with my family as I was growing up.
The next night, which was a Friday, the kids suggested a game with the whole family. It has been a long time since we all sat down to do a board game. Usually, it ends up being when my husband is working and it’s just me and a kid or two playing or the kids playing by themselves. It was such a fun evening. My oldest was at work, so he wasn’t able to get in on it, but it was me, my husband and the four younger boys (ages 8, 10, 11 and 14.)
It started out slow and I thought a couple of them were going to bail, but then when the properties were all owned and house and hotels were being bought and the steaks were getting higher, they got more into it. Really into it. I was getting lucky. Players were repeatedly landing on my Illinois Avenue. I owned a utility and a couple railroads and was lucky enough to acquire Park Place and Boardwalk. That’s when the real wheeling and dealing started and I started bending the rules.
With a stack of money in front of me, I offered my 10-year-old $20 for a foot rub. It worked. Then when he landed on my utility, I gave him a break. “You can give me just $5 and a shoulder massage.” He was happy to oblige. When he landed on one of my properties with a hotel and thought he’d go bankrupt, I offered to let him slide if he’d pay me $50, give me a scalp massage and get me a glass of Pepsi. I don’t think such negotiations are noted in the instructions. But, hey, it worked for me and we all had fun. Sometimes you have to bend the rules just a bit.