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What Doesn’t Kill us Makes us Stronger…(and other myths about board games)

Board games were invented with the sole purpose of driving parents crazy. (This parent, that is. I won’t speak for the rest of the world.)

As if I wasn’t there (…in crazy world) already.

It’s Friday night. I just played a game of Book Lover’s Memory Match with my two youngest- a game meant to arouse an interest of the players in classical literature. And all that was “a-rised” in me was my blood pressure. I have yet to watch a game unfold in my house that didn’t turn into a semi-blood bath by the time it was over. If the title of the Book Lover’s edition book titles are any indication (“The Art of War,” amongst others…), then we are truly on the right path. That is, if the path we are traveling is into full-out combat.

I don’t just despise board games because they bring out the worst in my offspring. I also suck at them. I am really, really bad at playing memory match. Here is an actual conversation between me and my daughter:

Me: “I have no matches.”
Daughter: “I think, like, there might be one down here that matches that card, Mom.”
Me (turning over yet another card that doesn’t match): “ mrph…..”

Board games just reinforce to me that I am no longer as sharp or as keen as I once was. Playing memory match with a five year old is like discussing national affairs with the Prime Minister: you don’t stand a chance. You try to yawn and pretend you don’t care, but after a while you really wonder if you are losing brain cells even as you watch your children’s matches grow in number beside your own non-existent pile.

It’s embarrassing.

By the middle to end of the game, my daughter was giving me pity matches just because she felt sorry for me. I refuse to be pitied. However, it is frustrating that I am unable to find my own matches but I seem to set up the person who takes their turn after me. Three times in a row this happened. Of course, it would be lovely if I planned it this way. But I didn’t. I really wanted those matches.

The last reason I despise board games is that everyone breaks the rules. I have no problem with anyone breaking rules if it enables me to hold onto the one or two nerves I am still in possession of, but when those two nerves are threatened due to sibling rivalry or competition or just plain old bullying tactics, I am ready to throw the games into a pile of leaves on the front lawn a set a match to them. Which is possibly where good ole’ Book Lover’s Memory Match just might be headed after I finish letting off some steam here.

When I was a kid, I played board games with my sisters. I recall making up all the rules and then coercing the one just below me in order of birth to PLAY IT MY WAY OR ELSE. Sadly, that rule has not been observed in our home. The youngest is not threatened in the least by any tactical decisions made on behalf of either of her two sisters or her brother. I think I just might have to shoot myself in the foot right now as my blood pressure is rising instead of decreasing.

God bless the man or woman who invented board games. God bless my mother who actually gave this game to my husband last year for Christmas. I did like the game the two times I actually got to play with Husband, whose brain cells are also diminishing. Just like mine. If I ever have the pleasure of playing this game again (most likely, tomorrow night), I have already made the conscious decision to hit myself in the head with a brick before the game begins.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.


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