My son came home from sleepaway camp with a new love of card games – rainy days were good for playing Uno and Magic the Gathering with his cabin mates. Rest hour was passed with games of solitaire or a book of mazes. And there were all sorts of goofy made up games that he has tried to explain to us, but we lose him in hysterics before we get all the rules.
The first night he was home, we cleared the dinner dishes and played Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, a wonderfully absurd game that I’d been counting down the days to play, until our deck of cards returned home with our firstborn. And you know what, it wasn’t the drive home or the first meal together that felt like our family was whole again, it was the moment we were laughing and pretending to be gorillas while attempting to slap the deck first. Seriously, that game is my favorite. And getting the chance to laugh with my family was a refreshing reminder that they are my favorites, too.
This has inspired me to take a closer look at the board and card games that we play – not to question their merit, but to dedicate a little more time and maybe some money for new games. Some games make us like each other less, and others bring the players together. Maybe it’s the day and the mood – except for Monopoly, which always makes someone stomp away in frustration (usually me).
There are homeschoolers that champion “gameschooling” – incorporating games into your days because, without having to be Capital-E Educational, there is a lot to learn from them. I don’t need to make them “extra educational” by quizzing my kids, which rather than being more educational might make someone stomp away in frustration (usually me). The game is the teacher and I am a collaborator or an opponent, and I let the math or probability or reading or strategy just happen, maybe without my kids even realizing all the skills that come in to play. We are longtime homeschoolers, but regardless, games can be a great way to pass some time together. They can also be a soul sucking way to spend time together, so you have my full permission to lose all the pieces to the games that you hate. Or put away half the games every month, and bring out the other half, so at least you know you will get a break from your less-than-favorites.
Some of our favorites these days: Set, Sudoku, Dragonwood, Ticket to Ride, Quixx, Sleeping Queens, Rush Hour and Outfoxed. And Scattergories works really well on Zoom with friends. We’ll also do some more mazes and word searches, and everyone loves logic puzzles here. I’m already planning some Channukah gifts for the family so we have some fresh games ready for winter.