My mother was a baker and reader by trade. My father a fisherman and hunter. If I wanted to play a game, I relied on my aunts, my mother’s sisters. They came ’round on special occassions and summer time. Which meant the times where I could legitimately accuse Colonel Mustard of hanging his victim in the study without inside knowledge (due to playing dual hands), were few and far between.
I knew some odd and some standard pop culture games from Flinch and Farkle on the odd side, to Sorry!, Easy Money, Life and Monopoly on the pop culture side. Cribbage and chess escaped me until my husband taught my cribbage and my 6-yr-old son, Calvin, chess. Cards beyond Go Fish!, forget it.
On a recent trip home to visit my parents, the closet of games beckoned my little ones – now 6 and 8 – and their eager gaming minds. If Mom is going to limit Angry Birds on the iTouch, we’ll have to resort to board games. I could hear the wheels turning. Clue, Trival Pursuit, Connect4 were all contenders. In the end, Monopoly won out.
Ironic that my kids even convinced my parents to play. I had never witnessed Monopoly with so many tokens in play. The hat, shoe, horse, car and dog moved from property to property buying them up or paying to stay. My kids – my son in particular – was hooked. We brought the game home with us. Mom could track down another one at some upcoming garage sale to ensure the game would await them on their next visit.
Calvin took to Monopoly like an obession. Waiting and biding his time until the next challenger arrived. Over the course of a week, he played games lasting from 1 hour to 2.5 hours with four different grown-ups – Dad, Mom, Grandma Susie and Aunt Rose. He was devastated to call the game early due to bedtime. He did not yet have his monopoly on the coveted blue properties.
He beat me. My strategy has always been to buy everything I land on and mortgage it to the hilt later if necessary. His was to focus on only two or three property groups and develop them to the max with hotels. He’s showing super Kindergartner finance and real estate skills. After three misfortunate lands by me on St. James Place totalling nearly $3,000, he told me he’d give me a break. I didn’t have to pay. I told him I meant to follow the rules. I went bankrupt.
Other nights when he met more worthier opponents, he was desperate – on the verge of a breakdown. Making side deals to save his life. When he did lose, there were tears and frustration. Such determination. Such lessons in life – to try so hard and care so much, but still have to lose despite all of your best efforts. Gracious in winning and gracious in losing.
It’s tempting to bring him a bowl of ice cream after a loss and sooth it over with a there-there. I just try to agree, Yes, it sucks. If you want to be sad, fine. You can cry with me or on your own. But we’ll play again tomorrow. It led me to compare board games with electronic games. You can probably guess where I lean on this one. Consider the length of time invested – 5-10 minutes per electronic game vs. 2.5 hours for board game. The teaching that can happen, not to mention, viewing how your child thinks. I concluded that for family togetherness, learning to be a gracious winner and loser and helping kids build their critical and strategic thinking ability, board games have a monopoly in this house.
What are your favorites – board or electronic?