I think it’s too easy to get caught up in the daily minutia. I’ve come to realize that every once in a while, we do something that seems insignificant at the moment, but when I look back, I realize it was a true family experience. This week, I had one of those.
Even though my family leads a pretty busy life, we seem to be together a lot. Both my husband and I work full time, and after school, our son attends a martial arts program. But we eat breakfast together, and on most nights, we eat dinner together too. We’re together for YMCA basketball games on Saturday, and are usually all home together on Sundays, playing on our phones or the iPad. But does any of this really count as family time?
Even though we might all be together, I think we get caught up in the daily patterns. Dressed by this time, out the door at that time, pick up the kid from afterschool no later than this time, dinner, shower, reading, bedtime, it’s almost a subconscious habit now. I don’t think any of us remember what we talked about at dinner two days ago, or even last night. We just go through the motions, day after day, and week after week.
Don’t get me wrong, we do special things from time to time. Traveling to visit family during the holidays, family vacations, local sporting events. These are all quality family events, but you can’t do these things every week. Some months there’s just too much going on to do these things. So how do you break up the stretches of the daily slog?
Earlier this week, on Sunday, we took advantage of some downtime to break out a board game. You’re probably thinking we got out Sorry! or Clue. No, this past Christmas, my husband bought the game Risk for our son. I’m still not sure if that if a game with the tagline “The Game of Strategic Conquest” is actually a good game to get for your average eight-year-old. But in any case, we finally got a chance to open it up and play a game.
The first thing I have to share is that you have to be careful playing a game like this with kids. The game does require a little bit of strategy, which is hard enough. But it also requires some luck when rolling the dice. Nothing demoralizes a kid faster than seeing one of his countries get wiped out by an invading army. So be prepared for the emotional reactions such an event can bring about.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never played before, and had no idea there had to be any sort of strategy other than just attacking as many countries as you can. Pretty soon, I found myself on the verge of complete annihilation, while my son and husband appeared ready to split the rest of the world between them. Finally, through what appears to be a better comprehension of the rules than either myself or my husband, my son won the game.
He was ecstatic, and both my husband and I enjoyed the game despite both of us losing. I learned that every once in a while, you have to take a step back from the daily pattern and try something new. Even though this was small, I know my son will remember it for a long time. I know I will remember it for a long time. For most people, this might not register as much of a family moment, but I think this is winning family time.