My children are competitive! No I mean super competitive! Like they are CERTAIN that there is a large cash prize at the end, competitive! I like to start family game night with my catch phrase “Gerd your loins folks, its family game night!”
So it all started when I had more than one child. My oldest daughter was four-years old and my son was two-years old and they wanted to play a game of Candy Land! I got the rectangular, colorful box out with zero expectations of how this game was going to go down. I mean how bad could it be? The colorful squares and the counting and the nice characters. Sure occasionally you get stuck in molasses swamp (who is smiling by the way) or have to miss a turn because you land on a piece of licorice, but my kids are young and they just want to have fun. Right? Right?
So we set up the board and shuffle the cards and then pick our game pieces. My oldest chooses blue. My son chooses red and I take green. All is good. The rules say that the youngest goes first.
“I will just go first to teach him how!” my oldest states as she picks up the card and moves her piece.
“Ok!” my son smiles because this is his first time playing. He’s just happy to be included.
My son picks up a double orange card and moves his little red man past my daughter. She watches him closely and then smiles and says “Good job!”
The next go around he gets another double. And then the next go around He gets a shortcut.
“I don’t think he can take the shortcut?” my daughter
“Why?” he asks
“Because I think that you didn’t land on it.” she points.
“Yes, I did!” He points to his piece.
“Yes, he landed on it.” I interject.
She recounts the spaces and then sits back with this look on her face. The look was menacing because at this point she is starting to realize that she might actually lose the game. Her game. It’s her favorite game! She then starts to count the spaces and then she says “But you could land here in the molasses and then you are stuck!”
Oh that’s the spirit, point out how he could lose. I hear this and I think nothing of it. I had siblings and I have heard this uttered during a game “It’s you turn, pick your nose! Are you going to keep picking your nose or ya gonna play?” because kids playing board games are savage!
So My daughter keeps telling him that if he gets two greens and a blue he is stuck in the molasses. Well while she was pointing out how he could lose she didn’t realize that she was heading straight to the molasses herself. She was so concerned about controlling his loss that she no longer was playing to win. So needless to say, he ends up winning. What happens next is the most overreaction to losing a game of Candy Land I have ever witnessed in my whole life.
“Wait! What? You didn’t draw the orange. He didn’t get orange!” She starts in.
My son still holding his card shows it to her and he says with an ‘in yo face’ tone “Orange!”
She looks at his card. She looks at the board and then she looks at him. “You didn’t win!”
“I won!” he smiles.
“No you didn’t! Mom, tell him! He didn’t win!” she looks at me with this hurt look in her big blue eyes. She’s four, where is this coming from?
“He won honey! It’s okay! We can play again.” I say.
She walks over to the board game and begins to pick up the pieces. Cool! She’s setting it up so that we can play again. While she picks it up, though, her movements get more and more forceful. She then grabs the board with all of the pieces and leaves the room. She takes her beloved game of Candy Land and throws the entire thing into the fucking trash. The trash is filled with wet gross spaghetti and there is no God Damned way that I am digging in that trash to salvage her game. I am a good mom. I am not THAT Mom! You want to throw away your game in a tantrum, be my guest. But I will not stick my hand in the garbage to take it out. Consequences!
“Why?” I ask “Why did you do that?”
She looks at me and shrugs “That Candy Land is broken!” she states and then she saunters off to her room to play alone. I look at my son, who is two-years old and he smiles and says “I won!”
“You sure did Bud!” and we went on with our lives. It was years before we had another Candy Land game board. In fact my youngest daughter got it as a gift from one of her friends. This was the deluxe version and there were Princess pieces and an actual rainbow bridge. We still have that game board, in fact!
I would like to say that Family game night got better than Candy Land in the garbage because someone lost. It did not.
One night I suggest playing Yahtzee. I love Yahtzee and it’s a game of chance. Sure we had clue and Balderdash and (Oh for the love of Christ don’t play fucking) Risk or Monopoly. My kids have had wars over games of strategy. My son took a dog bone to the head over a game called “balloon volleyball”! Yahtzee seemed safe.
“Why don’t we play Yahtzee!” I suggest. It’s a weekend and my husband was in Europe. I just wanted to sit down and relax.
“Okay!” the kids agree.
We start playing. My son rolls a perfect all sixes Yahtzee on his first roll.
“Good job Bud!” I say.
“He cheats!” My youngest starts.
I look at my son who laughs if you accuse him of anything. You could look at my son (who is ten years old at this point) and say “You are an alien, aren’t you?” and he would laugh suspiciously. Try parenting that. My son, my poor son, couldn’t handle being accused. He didn’t even have to do the thing that he was accused of, just the accusation was enough to make him feel uncomfortable. He always looked guilty.
He is giggling.
“Are you cheating?” I ask
He says “No! Mom, its Yahtzee, how do you cheat?”
I look at the cup and the dice and I agree Yahtzee is not a game you can easily cheat at. I however keep an eye on him.
My turn and I roll and I get shit and mark down a one.
My oldest rolls a full house.
My youngest gets a three of a kind. She marks it as the actual number instead of the three of a kind. There is considerable debate as to what she should have marked.
“You guys think you are so smart!” she announces.
“You are doing fine!” I say. “Kids, leave your sister alone. Keep your eyes on your own paper.”
My son then rolls another perfect all sixes yahtzee among all of the kerfuffle.
“He’s cheating!” my youngest states.
My son sitting there looking at her with shock that she was so brazen to call him a cheater.
“How am I cheating?” he asks.
“You are cheating. I just know that you are cheating.” she says and now the temperature in the room is getting to be about eight hundred degrees and balmy.
“Are you cheating?” I ask.
He starts giggling.
“That roll doesn’t count because we weren’t ready!” My oldest daughter states. We all agree, except my son, but he’s affable and he rolls again. This time he gets his full house.
My youngest rolls and gets garbage and then marks a zero for her full house. My two others tell her not to do that. “Just take a three. What happens if you roll a full house?”
She looks at them and you can tell that she is just pissed. I am looking around the room for anything that she can launch in their direction. We are sitting in my bed and there are only soft things within her grasp. So I think that we are ok.
“You can mark down whatever you want!” I say.
She looks at her paper and she says “I need a new paper!”
My son doesn’t always know when to keep his mouth shut and this is why he took a dog bone to his head.
“You don’t need a new paper, just erase your answer!” He looks at his oldest sister as if to say ‘what a dummy’! Out of the corner of my eye I see my youngest daughter fling herself at him. She is all anger and no self-restraint and there are elbows and knees in every direction.
I start yelling. My oldest starts pulling bodies apart. I grab one, she grabs the other and finally we break it up.
I stand up and like a mother who was just trying to have a nice, relaxing game of Yahtzee to no avail I yell “I guess we can’t even friggin play a nice game like Yahtzee, because you fools turn it into Yangry!” I push the flying hair from my spittle at the corner of my lips and I say “Go to your rooms and read!”
“But I was winning!” My son states.
“YOU WERE CHEATING!” my youngest yells.
“TO YOUR ROOMS NOW!” I demand.
You see, family game night is supposed to be fun. When you look at the box or at the commercial all of the people laughing and having a good time, you think good times are sold in this box! What they really need to show is the loser hurling herself at the winner. Or the oldest daughter stitching up the brother with steri-strips. That way you know what you’re getting yourself into. The slogan can be “Monopoly, the game where the winner can be the biggest slum lord with a nice black eye!” or “Trouble, expect stitches!” or “Clue, solve this murder and then witness your own crime in the privacy of your own home!”
My children are adults now and our favorite game is “Cards against humanity” It says right on the box “party game for horrible people”. That’s us. This is a game that makes us all laugh and have a good time. No one is getting taken out by sharp and throwable objects. My children are competitive and I will tell you that it will serve them well in their lives, but not so much with board games.
Moral of my story: Wear armor for family game night. Be careful of expectations, I was looking for a relaxing night, my kids were looking to win. I don’t really know, I never understood why they acted like this. The funny thing is that they all get together at my son’s apartment for sleep overs and play board games together. They enjoy WWF Candy Land I guess.
Until next time 🙂
Ps. Tell me how I’m doing! Also let me know about your own experiences with family game night. Unless your kids are wonderful and accept losing with grace, I don’t really need to know that!!!!!