The other day my kids had a play date with a few friends. Watching movies and zoning out to Xbox zombie style took up most of the day.
I found myself getting frustrated and somewhat annoyed with all the electronic activity running the “date.” Our house was filled with the blaring noise of Harry Potter getting ready for his Quidich match and the muffled sounds of Minecraft blocks smashing and breaking.
Something needed to change.
I called all the kids downstairs and did the improbable. The one thing that would automatically turn me into that uncool mom that kids talk about well after the hang out was over. It took a lot of courage but I finally got on my podium and said the unthinkable: Shut off. All. Electronics.
After a few eye rolls and grunts they gave in to the lockdown. I brought out an un-opened box of Monopoly Empire. This wasn’t the classic Monopoly with Water Woks, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Park Place. It was a fast paced property dealing and trading game of the 21st century. The new game included brands such as EBay, Google, Angry Birds, and Beats by Dr. Dre as only a few of the corporations to barter.
I handed the kids the box and turned to walk away. As I was approaching the steps I heard their tiny voices helplessly say, ‘we don’t even know how to play’. I assertively reassured them that the instructions were there as their guide
With a few more sighs, I listened as they opened the box and started to read the instructions. Here were four kids, all between the ages of 7 and 10 constructively and ever so diligently reading and following the directions.
After 20 minutes, I returned downstairs to see them enthralled in the trenches of counting money, analyzing options, and meticulously making trades. The entire experience had been a success,
One of the kids, (it may or may not have been my own child) decided that the game was so “boring” and that there was no point in sticking around since they were losing.
This became my ‘Uh Uh, Oh no you didn’t moment.’ I looked down at the child (who might have been mine) and made the dreaded comment I never knew my lips had the audacity to utter. “When I was your age.” Yes, I have finally aged enough to make this gregarious statement.
On I went, explaining how I never ever walked away from a game. I continued to explain to my daughter (ok, it was my daughter—a perfectionist who doesn’t like losing) that it was incredibly unfair to the rest of the teammates to give up and leave in the middle of a game. I explained to her that with patience she could get out of jail or possibly land on a bonus spot. Furthermore, I told her, even if it was hopeless and she would not be able to buy any more property, she still needed to stay until the end.
The game continued on and of course there were happy players, not so happy, and downright miserable players, but that was the reality they needed to see.
In the end, the ‘electronic shutdown’ was a fabulously perfect learning experience. As anyone knows, electronics are probably the bane of our children’s existence. Unplugging in this particular situation was especially successful in that it taught my kids two very important life lessons about working with others.
First, working as a team can be a great way to pool together ideas in order to find a solution. Secondly, giving up is not an option especially when others are depending on you.
The next time I need to teach the kids a life lesson I will definitely turn to a good ol’ board game. On a side note, it also becomes a great time to connect with the kids. Instead of having intense conversations about the who’s and what’s in their lives, you can converse in between turns. The whole experience becomes a great way of connecting.
Below is a list of some of our favorite games:
Headbanz: Everyone attaches a plastic headband to their head and gets a card. Without looking at the card they have to guess what it is by getting clues from the other players.
Uno: The class card game of colored and numbered rules is always a win.
Zingo: It’s bingo with pictures!
Scrabble: Using spelling skills in always a win-win.
Monopoly: A favorite in our home.
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