“Ah, Just like I planned it! You did exactly what I wanted you to do!” Hope shouts gleefully at her dad. She just bested him at a round of Connect Four. Right now while I am writing, her dad is explaining some of his processing strategies on how to plan an attack strategy. We’ve played rounds of Concentration much like I did with my parents except the cards have Disney princesses on them. We've played rounds of Guess Who. We played rounds of Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. We’ve got the slow food movement, the art of slowing reading, and in my house we have the fun of slow gaming, family game night.
When I was 10 years old, I was finally allowed to play the grown-up card game of Hi-Lo-Jack. I still remember learning at my great-grandfather’s side along with my parents and grandparents at their tiny winter home in Melbourne, Florida during my Spring Break one year. The tradition still continues as we’ve taught my husband how to play and invariably any family gathering of a least four adults includes a raucous card game.
In 5th grade, I remember playing rounds and rounds of Pick up Sticks and Uno in Ms. Harvey’s class during lunch. Some of my favorite memories of my Dad include playing Trivial Pursuit. He always had some arcane knowledge that I now realize came from the fact that he was 15 years older than my mom. He had an entire decade and a half of knowledge that no one else in the room had. After someone would pose a question, he would smirk and taunt, “Easy, easy!” In college, it was ultimate Scrabble matches with the OED as challenge reference. As an adult I love to play Turbo Cranium and when I really have time in the summer I love to go play live trivia with my friends.
On my phone, I do still play Tetris. I also indulge in Words with Friends and Scramble, but none of these games bring the joy and laughter into my life like playing games face-to-face with friends. It is actually one of the few things that I like about our school library. Kids can and do check out board games. I watch them play during lunch and before and after school. In fact, our media specialist hosts a board game activity day during school. I look forward to testing days when kids are stuck in my classroom for an extra hour because they are the times when I whip out my 7-8 Scrabble boards and we all play.
As I think about all the time in my life spent gaming, I realized I learned more than just how to play a game. I learned how to talk to adults and how to ask questions. I learned how to strategize and make a plan. I learned how to lose and I learned how to win. When we make time for slow gaming with kids, they have an opportunity to learn so much more than meets the eye. Ultimately it's just a sacred time for laughter. It's my time now. Have an Operation scheduled with my daughter.