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Bored games

by | Dec 15, 2022 | Latest, Opinion

Once upon a time, kids used to get bored. Before cell phones, video games, and 4,000 cable channels with nothing to watch, there wasn’t much to do. And kids got bored.

I was one of them.

It was bad enough to have a deep, endless chasm of time swallowing you (think Christmas holidays or summers before you were old enough to work at a job), but it was even worse when you were with cousins and other family or friends, and all of you were held captive by time.

Whether my family traveled over the river and through the woods, or kinfolk came to see us, inevitably the kids would become bored.

We always had two choices: Go outside, or find something to do inside. Either choice was designed so that we would quiet down. This would allow the men to watch football, and the women to talk about the bored kids and the men watching football.

Around the holidays in Ashdown, Arkansas, it was typically pretty cold. So, unless we could get enough guys to go out and play a friendly game of crushing tackle football in the yard, we stayed in the house.

If you were outside and not moving around, eventually you’d become numb and uncomfortable. The same feeling you experienced inside after hours with relatives.

But games were at least somewhat of a competitive relief from the boredom. And we played them. Lots of them.

Hindsight, the games we had don’t make a lot of sense, at least not for kids. Take Monopoly. Please, take Monopoly.

Here’s a game that teaches you how to be ruthless. The goal is to buy up all of the property and then take everyone else’s money if they land on it. If they run out of money, they go to jail.

Pretty wholesome stuff.

On top of sending your family to the poor house, the game never ends. It goes on forever. So, you spend an entire day of your holiday season in jail, broke, and waiting for a roll of the dice that might get you out.

Some relatives must’ve taken this to heart since they repeated this exact process later in life.

Speaking of Life, now there’s a game that everyone should play at a young age. Not too dissimilar to Monopoly, the Game of Life sits everyone down and, with the spin of the wheel, foists you into real-life problems you neither asked for nor wanted.

The Game of Life dates back to before the Civil War. It debuted in 1860. Even then, game makers knew how to expose children to the frustrations of debt, too many kids, and trying to retire.

In 1960, the game was redone to make it more realistic. In the version I grew up with, you drove a plastic car around the board to get where you were going. Check your current car. Mostly plastic these days.

Of course, trying to play Scrabble with other people whose vocabulary is as interesting as yours is always fun. This was the game that should’ve allowed you to buy a vowel.

Then there was the game Operation. It was a game that ran on batteries so that loud buzzing would occur if the children who were doing surgery on you made a mistake.

Ever noticed the age of your doctor the last time you were in for a visit?

If you got sick of games, you could always join the chain-smoking older ladies in the family who liked putting jigsaw puzzles together.

Usually, these puzzles were a snapshot of real life, but the box lid that showed you what the puzzle was supposed to look like was often missing. So were some of the pieces. Just like real life. That might explain the chain smoking.

And last but not least, there were always playing cards. Whether it was spades, canasta, or something else, I’m fairly certain that none of us kids had any idea what the actual rules were. Just like Monopoly. We didn’t know the rules to that either. Putting money in the middle of the Monopoly board and claiming all of it if you land on Free Parking is nowhere in the rules. But the kids learned from it. Today, lots of people claim money for doing nothing.

So, this holiday season, instead of everyone in the family being glued to their phones, take a moment, put the phones down, and get out the old board games or cards.

See if we can’t bring back that old-school togetherness. Hey, our kids deserve it as much as we did.

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