We took our winter break seriously in the Slack household.
School was out, but class was still in session … in the form of board games.
Cooperation, teamwork, sportsmanship, yada yada yada, have their place the first 50 weeks of the year, but the final two?
We opened a present here, a present there, made some homemade cookies for Santa, set out eight individual carrots so as not to favor any individual reindeer.
Then, it was everyone for themselves.
We started simple and gradually got more complex. At least so we thought.
Connect 4 — on first glance, you’d think a game where you slide a circle token into one of seven rows in hopes of getting four of your pieces in a row would be fairly obvious. When playing against kids, though, not so fast.
It took some convincing, but eventually we got them to stop opening the game on the edges — probably should have built up from tic-tac-toe, but live and learn – and learn to always drop in the middle first. Next came the lesson that, as tempting as it is to build up your own connection, if your opponent has three in a row, YOU HAVE TO BLOCK THEM.
That feels good to get off my chest.
Eventually, we mastered, (well, “mastered”) the game and worked our way up to checkers.
They say checkers is easier than chess, which, given our checkers experience, doesn’t bode well for chess. We had a little issue getting everyone moving the proper number of spaces and learning how to leap over opponents, so I’m a little nervous about when we get to the point when we have pawns, knights, rooks, bishops and queens, all with different movement capabilities, moving back and forth, for some unknown reason defending a feeble king.
Once we finally got everyone moving in the correct direction all the time, we immediately threw everything off by introducing the concept of “doubled checkers” who could in fact move backwards once they reached the end of the board. Kind of like when a certain elementary teacher tried to convince me there aren’t any numbers that are less than zero, only to later in the year teach us about negative numbers. Good thing for them I don’t hold a grudge past a couple of decades.
Anyway, the grand finale board game doubled as a quality lesson in economics: Monopoly.
It was the first time we played with the kids, and let me tell you, this game is vicious. And realistic. Well, sort of.
You roll up to a certain spot, drop $100 and all of a sudden you have your own avenue. Travel fast enough around the board in your race car game piece and you collect $200. No concerns about gas prices here. What a deal.
Collect all of the same color and now you get to start building houses! Take that Candyland: You may have delicious gumdrops, but in this game you can charge rent on your siblings.
Maybe it was because we had been playing games all week, or maybe they’re destined to be bankers, but they took to the game shockingly quickly. Before we knew it, there was some sweet-talking to make some property exchanges, and while I thought snatching up Boardwalk for a random railroad was a little exploitative of a younger brother, I had to admire the gumption. After all, you can’t trust anyone else to share the pot when they land on free parking (depending on your own house rules).
With the calendar turned, we’ll try to be a little more cooperative for the next 11 and a half months, maybe eke out one more year on Santa’s nice list. Then all bets are off again.
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