A Family Game Night always seems like a good idea… in theory.
It checks so many boxes.
It gets the kids off their electronic devices.
It stimulates conversation.
And it is considered good old-fashioned fun.
But the problem with Family Game night is it can turn ugly… fast.
My husband and I have had a regular Scrabble game that we have been playing several times a week for 16 years. I thought I was a truly excellent Scrabble player until I met him, but he is on a whole other level. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of victories, but he wins about 2 out of 3 games.
My theory for his winning streak is that when we play, he takes a ridiculous amount of time to take his turn. I have tried to discuss this with him, but he claims it’s just “propaganda" to distract him. But there is no distracting him because he has laser focus. We take the game VERY seriously. Additionally, I tend to get antsy waiting for my turn. So I often get up to empty the dishwasher, do a load of laundry, or bake cookies. When I was a television executive, I used to read scripts while we played. I could finish a 60-page script during one game of Scrabble. He claims I take just as long when it is my turn, but it simply is not true. In a nutshell, I think my brain goes numb while I wait for my turn.
This week, my oldest daughter and her girlfriend are visiting and since no one in my family is willing to play Scrabble with us anymore, we had to move on to other games. The first night we started with Cards Against Humanity. If you haven’t played this game, it’s like Mad-Libs... if Mads Libs were X-rated and totally inappropriate. Of course, this is exactly why people love the game so much. My sister-in-laws came over and one of my sister-in-laws was killing it. I think she won about 16 rounds. I won about 2. It was not my night.
Night two, my oldest daughter thought it would be fun and nostalgic to play Sorry. She was already talking smack before the game began about how she was going to be the winner because she was so good at the game. I barely remembered how to play, but I guess I pulled a few good cards and made a handful of strategic moves. As my oldest daughter started to fall behind, she blurted out, “You know this is actually a game of luck?” I calmly retorted with, “Only when you are losing.”
I ended up winning the first round, but admittedly, it was just luck. My husband decided to take my place in the second round. He didn’t remember how to play either. But it’s designed for 8 years old and up, so he figured it out. The next thing I knew, both my oldest and youngest daughters were screaming that he somehow managed to get ahead of everyone. He won the next round. I actually think they should rename the game to “Sorry, Not Sorry.”
My oldest daughter was throughly frustrated. She needed a win. She suggested that we play Rummikub, a game which she claims that she was the “reigning champ” in high-school. But after my husband won the very first round of that game, the tensions started mounting. That is when oldest daughter dug the two-minute sand timer out of the box. My husband was insulted. He claimed that he doesn’t take any longer than anyone else. All the girls burst out laughing.
During his next turn, I went to do a load of laundry. When I returned, he was STILL “thinking” about which tiles to play. Clearly, the two-minute sand timer was no longer functional. We had to move on to a digital timer. My daughters continued to tease him for the insane amount of time he was taking. He evoked his favorite statement, “That is propaganda used to distract me.” I bit my tongue to keep from laughing.
We played a few more rounds until we were all punch-drunk with fatigue. My youngest daughter won the second round, but in spite of being on a roll, she threw in the towel and went to sleep. Even the dog left to follow my daughter to bed. I was down to the last tile when my husband laid down a key tile that would have permitted me to win the game… allowing us all to finally go to bed. But out of the corner of his eye, he saw me get excited, and he pulled the tile back onto his rack. Yes, at the expense of getting closer to finishing the game, he purposely blocked me from winning.
My daughter then made a killer strategic move and finally went out. She won the round and won the game and felt much better about winning something.
My husband tried to take credit for her win by admitting to holding back the key tile that would have allowed me to go out. We both gave him a death stare.
Yes, that’s how competitive we all are.
After two nights in a row of friendly Family Game Night, we think we needed to have a cooling off period.