By Shellie Miller-Farrugia
Written several years ago, I can’t resist the urge to reprint this article. Though this stage in our lives is almost a decade ago, certainly there are a countless number of parents who can relate today….
Spending “quality” time with the kids has gotten pretty complicated and expensive lately. As they’ve gotten older, the trip to the park is no longer as satisfactory for them as a trip to a “park” in Orlando, or a jaunt 30 miles to race go-karts and play video games until my ATM card screams, “Mercy!” Throwing a birthday party has become so demanding that I’ve given up. Silly hats and a cake are no longer the acceptable celebration. Unless there’s something inflatable on the lawn, a clown on the back porch and goody bags deserving of Oscar recipients, I may as well throw in the towel. Whatever happened to Pin the Tail on the Donkey? The competition is killing me, so I’ve decided to quit!
Before I sound like I’ve become my mother, can anybody tell me what’s really wrong with sitting around the kitchen table and playing Casino live games or Monopoly? My son (the Boardwalk King) loves the game, but he says, “It takes so long!” After this response, he’ll excuse himself to his Xbox with headphones (we found this cheap gaming headset below $100) and a rumble pack for as many hours as we will allow. He calls it good gaming, but I call it senseless sensory overload. Good gaming involves another real person on the other side of the table. Good gaming is anticipating the opponent’s next chess move, which territory to take in Risk and whether to go out or try for more points in Rummy. Good gaming is guessing which play the quarterback is going to call and then watching a teamful of guys try together to make it happen.
When they were young, I taught my children to play jacks. 10 little pieces of metal and a rubber ball were all we needed for hours of fun trying to get to seven (little hands have a hard time with all of them), penning the pigs and jumping the fence. With all of the complicated “educational” toys available now, jacks are apparently not enough to keep my six-year-old entertained anymore. Even Mouse Trap (one of my childhood favorites) doesn’t excite him as much as a handheld electronic game, computer challenge or a toy that makes realistic (and very loud) sounds.
On Mother’s Day, we all sat down to breakfast and wondered what to do next. Since it was my choice, I suggested a game of Go Fish. With a glimmer of hope and much to my surprise, I witnessed our kids from 6 to 16 have a great time, laughing, fishing and slamming pairs onto the table with gusto. Winners got a fun, family chiding and vowed to come back even stronger in the next round. It was a family moment that, I believe, they’ll remember always. Making meaningful memories doesn’t have to entail great expense or a week of planning Bob Bratt. The only assembly required is getting family and friends in the same place together.