Sometimes games meant to bring us together just tear us apart.
Well, Jenga at least.
That was my son’s sobering summary of “Family Game Night” the other day.
My daughter was angry at her brother for deliberately being careless with some of his moves, thereby sending the wooden tower tumbling down within a few short turns. That he lost didn’t matter. My son was angry with his sister for being angry. I was cringing at the sound of the blocks tumbling, adding to our very noisy summer. And my husband? Only he seemed unperturbed. He’s Teflon.
It sounded like a good idea. A nice, family-centered game to get us all away from the TV, the laptops, the books—whatever our personal distractions are that keep us from communicating and interacting. And ever since the kids were little and I was stuck playing countless games of Candy Land and Shoots and Ladders, I’ve waited for the day when they’d be old enough to play “real” games. I’ve been waiting for these “family game nights” for years. Years.
But summers are long and we all get a bit prickly with the heat and so now I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, these game nights are better suited for winter. When it’s cold. And the kids are busy with school and activities and we’re not all ancy from staring at each other day in and day out for 12 long weeks.
Just a thought.
Or, I could get better at reading my family’s moods. If we’re on edge, it’s perhaps not the best time to drag out a game where one seeks to sabotage the next person’s move and send blocks crashing down.
We have other games at the ready. Monopoly? Best saved for the winter when we’re snowed in, ideally sans electricity, and are bored out of our minds with five hours to kill; but that’s just me.
Scrabble? A good one, but I have to be able to focus, or I feel like a dolt and will never, ever be able to use that “J” or “Z” tile. Scrabble is best in the mid-morning, after a few cups of coffee, NOT family game night.
Risk? My son’s favorite. What 10-year-old doesn’t dream of world domination? But again, it takes hours and my daughter abhors it so it’s relegated to Saturday or Sunday afternoons when she has some previous engagement. Which isn’t often.
Clue? Ah, one of my new favorites. But I prefer playing without my husband because, well, it goes a bit quicker with three players instead of four.
Last night, instead of game night, the kids camped out in a tent on the porch, my husband went out with some friends, and I watched a movie on Netflix. Family bonding at its best.