Dear Savvy Sister,
I adore my kids and would readily step in front of a speeding train or a government bureaucrat to save their lives. I do everything I can to enrich their brains and broaden their smiles. Except for my one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad secret – I hate playing kids’ games. All of them, including make-believe with toys. Is it ok to leave most of that to the nanny except for oh, maybe one hand of Uno per week?
And please reply nicely, not snarkily. You’ll notice I sent this to the Savvy Sister, not the Sappy one.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. You have outed me. Yes, it’s true. I deliver most of my sage wisdom with dollops of snark and occasional swirls of sap. But should people seeking free advice from a blogger sans credentials really be so particular? I think not.
Regarding your dilemma: When I was a child, I played the game Sorry! with my parents a couple of times after it became popularized by a Carol Burnett Show skit. Later, as a teenager, we played Thumper, a drinking game involving sitting in a circle and remembering individual made-up hand signals. It’s usually played while drinking beer, but with my parents and their friends we used a nice chilled Pouilly-Fuisse. Good times!
Lots of parents mandate weekly Family Game Nights. Awesome! Inspirational! But listen, I prefer not to waste my remaining brain cells trying to get a green gingerbread man over Gumdrop Mountain (Candyland) or racing to catch polyester butterflies floating out of a hippopotamus’ elongated snout (Elefun). Holy Hasbro! Let’s just roll quarters off our noses and be done with it!
There’s no doubt that parents who play with their children are enriching their families. But playing can take many forms. Making cookies together is “playing,” in my book. Gardening together. Tossing balls to the dog. Drawing pictures. Watching a movie. How about this? Invent a game in which you each cut pictures out of a magazine and paste them into an artful collage. That way, if you choose the right magazine, you’re learning about Kim Kardashian getting jiggy with Kanye WHILE simultaneously playing games with your child. Genius! Or this: sometimes I play Hair Salon with my daughter. I sit in a chair, she brushes my hair and rubs lotion on my hands while I watch reruns of The Daily Show. #multitasking!
Parenting is hard enough without the imposition of artificial job requirements. Do you need to spend time with your children? Absolutely. Does it matter whether you’re playing Go Fish or interpreting cloud shapes? Not. One. Bit.
If your children adore board games, teach them to play with each other, or yes, by all means, make the nanny do it. Also, tell her to teach them how to floss. That’s a godawful task.
That Thumper game, though? It really is kind of fun. But only when you’re, you know, buzzed.
the Savvy Sister
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