Another holiday season is already upon us and although I feel like the weeks are racing by, Declan complains each morning on the drive to school that "Christmas will never get here! How many days is it now?"
However similar the scenery may be, we are definitely seeing the world from different perspectives. I am excited at the arrival of Thanksgiving week and can't wait to collapse onto the couch tomorrow, stuffed from eating excessive turkey and with my son and daughter both at my side. I will probably not get to watch football, as I have been unable to pass my enjoyment of the sport onto either Declan or Shawn, but knowing they will both be there gets me more excited than any football game ever could.
Declan is outspoken with his distaste for Thanksgiving, as he knows the holiday focuses on a feast in which he will be required to sample at least a few new dishes. He is just as excited as I am though, to have his sister with us for the week. He becomes giddy during conversations about which board and video games we will play together.
I began collecting board games when Shawn was about Declan's age and continued to purchase them for years after she had moved away with her mother. I seemed to get a small amount of peace from the purchases. It felt kind of like a promise to myself, that no matter how far away she was, someday, we would sit down together and play.
Eventually I had to stop. I found myself with a huge collection of unopened board games that I was unwilling to part with and running out of room to store.
When I relocated from Colorado to be closer to family in Seattle, I told everyone in my family it was the best moving experience I ever had. After listing my house on the market, Declan and I loaded the car with clothes and a few select toys and hit the road. What only a few knew was that the trunk of my car was stuffed with board games.
The board games, of course, then accompanied me on my next and final move to a small town in Nebraska.
To be honest, with the popularity of video games recently, I was beginning to think I may never get the chance to share the experience of a family board game night with my kids. How would I ever convince them to gather around the dining table and roll dice, to determine how many squares they can move their pewter race car around the Monopoly board? Especially when they could become an honorary participant in an episode of the TV show Wipeout, simply by walking into the living room and turning on the XBox 360 Kinect.
I got my answer this past weekend when I convinced Declan we should play checkers. He had no clue what checkers was, but of course anything that involves the words "us" and "play," he is usually willing to try.
We ended up having a blast and any concerns I ever had about not getting the chance to play board games with my little monsters were quickly, well, wiped out.
To my surprise, Declan told me over and over that checkers was the coolest game he had ever seen. After about ten straight games I was pooped and he was begging for more. No exaggeration, he was pleading for game after game.
Declan's excitement for each game was unfortunately matched with his frustration and disappointment, when I made the mistake of winning a game.
Not only did I underestimate how much he would enjoy playing checkers, I also underestimated the melt down he would have when faced with a loss. For the time being, lets just say that I plan to never let that happen again.
I quickly decided that I am OK with him thinking I am merely a terrible checkers player, but may need to seek out advice on how to best help him cope with his "Incredible Hulk-ish" alter ego.
Checkers has become a nightly request from Declan since and I look forward to broadening his gaming horizon with his sister over the holiday week.
My advise to Dads everywhere who wish to play games with your children, don't make the mistake of thinking your teaching your 6-year-old how to be a better checkers player. Let him win, or face the consequences.
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