The social director at our house (yes, that would be ‘yours truly’) has lost her old job. The routine Thursday scouring of local papers and websites for “what’s going on this weekend” doesn’t produce much in the way of safe social-distancing. And, of course hanging out with friends is out of the question, even outside, since the rain arrived and the temps have dropped. I will give the media credit for filling up their pages with clever in-home distractions or links to events converted to online streaming. But, honestly, it’s just not the same.
So what does one do at times like these? Play games of course! It’s the best. They suck you in and shut out the world. They fire up competition and camaraderie. They make you laugh and remind you to not take yourself so seriously.
That’s what we did growing up at any opportunity that knocked our regular routines out of orbit. We had an entire section of an old wardrobe in the hallway crammed with the usual favorites like Scrabble, Monopoly, Cribbage, Candyland, Cluedo, chess and checker boards and mismatched card decks. I thought this was what all families did. You knew it to be a universal standard of sorts, rather like everyone serving turkey for Christmas Day dinner. Who doesn’t do that, right?
That was, until I married into a family, whose ‘go-to’ is reading books. Unlike my game-crazy family of origin, my family by marriage and procreation does not possess the game-playing gene. I’m not sure I belong to this tribe. How is sitting around in silence and reading together considered a fun activity? How did I end up living in this wrong place?
In calmer seas I can usually suppress doubts about failing to raise my kids properly – to love playing games, or beating myself up for having failed to make playing games a prerequisite for choosing a life partner. But during natural disasters (think hurricanes) and now epidemics, I am forced to face these gaps, in an otherwise pretty awesome family life, anew.
And, in all fairness to my husband and kids, they are not spared when I’m disappointed. I do not slink away in silence to simply ‘get over it’. They are surely made to suffer too. I do not hesitate to launch into badgering and nagging them to play with me, until they relent or escape me somehow. But now we’re cooped up together, so there’s no escaping my enthusiasm.
I’ve been beating the drums on this all week long … how about some Scrabble? maybe Quiddler or Boggle? …. no takers. Then last night I decided it was time to get serious. I boldly declared Saturday to be Game Night! Be prepared! I’m coming for you. There will be no excuses – you have been given fair warning. We are going to play and you’re going to endure. Who knows, you might even like it – though they are unlikely to admit it, lest it encourages me all the more.
The big question now is whether I will have to let them win at Scrabble to ensure it’s not our last game during social isolation?