Am I the only man whose blood runs cold when his wife pipes up: “Let’s play a family board game?”
Maybe there was a time when such an optimistic call to arms was greeted by our two boys cheering loudly and running downstairs armed with Monopoly and Cluedo boards before eagerly setting up the games in front of a roaring log fire.
I have a vague memory of rosy cheeked youngsters happily throwing dice and tapping their game pieces across the board while my wife and I clap and cheer their every move. When I inspect that memory closer, those aren’t my kids, and that’s not my wife. I am remembering a mish mash of 1980s Christmas TV adverts. The giveaway is the curly haired woman throwing her hands in the air and shouting “Operate!” in mock horror. “Here goes his funnybone…” Too true. There’s little humour in the family board game arena chez Ord. The funnybone has been removed ... without anaesthetic.
Telling our two teenage boys that we’re going to play a family board game is up there with “who’s up for a family walk?” for generating howls of displeasure. The relatively harmless question is followed by an audible groan and plaintive cry of “Why?”
Come to think of it, almost every utterance from our lips is greeted with an audible groan and plaintive cry of “Why?” from our two boys.
Have you brushed your teeth? (groan ‘why?’)Have you tidied your room? (groan ‘why?’) Run for your lives there’s a man-eating bear loose in the house (groan, ‘why?’), you get the drift.
Anything which may prise them away from the hypnotic glow of their mobile phone and video game screens is routinely dismissed.
My wife, however, will not be put off. They are told in no uncertain terms that they are to play a fun family board game and enjoy it, or else!
There’s nothing like mild threats and intimidation to get a party started.
But what to play? Cue first argument. Isaac, 13, plumped for draughts (too simple); I suggested Monopoly (too long); Brad, 16, said chess (too complicated) … we settled on Game of Life.
For those unfamiliar with it, Game of Life is life in miniature. You travel around a board, going to university, getting a career, buying a house, getting married, having kids, and so on. Strangely, the winner is not those who end up most contented, but who accumulates most money. Needless to say, it all ended in arguments before a move had been made. ‘A family that plays together, stays together,’ they say. In our case, we stay together to argue. As an accurate reflection on life, however, Game of Life worked a treat. But only in my case. Each player starts with a car in which you are in the driving seat and you add a wife and kids as the game progresses. But there were only three cars. As such, my wife fashioned my car out of piece of carrot and silver foil.
Game of Life. When everyone else gets cars, I get a root vegetable wrapped in foil!