Monday, June 15, 2009

The Games We Play

"I rock at LIFE," our 10 year old bragged last night, as she told my husband and me about her day at Learn2Serve camp at LaGrange College. Apparently, she was excited to do well in the game of LIFE and redeem herself after her rather shabby performance in a previous game of Monopoly.

I were reminded of the games that we've been playing this summer. We've played a heck of a lot of cards-- Spit in the Ocean, Five Card Stud, Pay Me, triple (and even quadruple!) solitaire. We've also been enjoying a bit of Mancala and Othello. We love games around here.

As soon as our kids were old enough to sit up and pay attention for longer than 30 seconds, we began playing games with them. We started with Concentration, Candy Land, and Pokemon Yatzee. Clue Jr., Tiddlywinks, Uno, and the Cranium games were soon stacked in our closet. Playing games is a great way to spend time together. It's just icing on the cake that so many life lessons are built in to game playing:

taking turns
being a gracious winner
being a good loser
critical thinking
problem solving

To me, none of these lessons are more important than the others. In order to be good people, we need all of these skills.

We have spent about 13 years playing games with our kids. In the beginning, we'd be sure to let them win from time to time, so that they wouldn't get frustrated. We practiced saying "Congratulations" to the winner and "Good game" to the losers. We'd shake hands across the game board.

This summer, something strange and wonderful has happened, something we're not used to. My husband and I find ourselves saying, "Congratulations" much more often than we say, "Good game." Our kids are beating us on an embarassingly regular basis. We have made a valiant effort to stay focused and try to whoop up on them a little bit, but the victories are few and far between these days.

At first, my feelings were a little hurt and I worried a bit. Am Ilosing my touch? Is this what happens when you hit your 40s? (Don't they say that 40 is the new 20?) What will be the next thing to go?

It didn't take long for me to stop worrying and start smiling. I realized that we should be proud. Our kids feel like they rock at life. Isn't that what we all want for our children?