By Lori-Anne Poirier
We’ve entered a new era in the Poirier household.
I’m calling it “The Age of Games.”
It started with a Honey Bee Tree game my son, Oliver, got for his last birthday.
It’s kind of a simplified version of Pick-Up Sticks or Jenga.
Long, green, plastic sticks with a leaf on the end, are pushed through the holes of a hive-shaped bowl that sits on top of a hollow, plastic tree trunk.
Once all the sticks are in, they create a mesh that upholds a swarm of plastic bees.
The idea is to remove the sticks one by one with as few bees falling through as possible.
My son, of course, thinks he’s hit the jackpot when a whole slew of bees come tumbling out, which means that both he and whatever adult he plays with can finish the game feeling like the winner.
This week, we added to our kids’ game stockpile with Memory – the game where you try to find matching pairs of images from a collection of down-facing cards.
Oliver caught onto that one really fast – although we’re still working on reigning in the impulse to pick three or four cards per turn, instead of two, when he doesn’t find a matching pair right away.
After our first game, though, I stopped helping him and now it’s every man (or mum) for him or herself.
I always loved board games, growing up.
Some of my favourites over the years include Sorry, Monopoly, Pictionary, Taboo and Clue.
All of them bring back memories of sidesplitting laughter, teamwork, competition, analytical thinking and crazy conversations.
I’m so excited that my kids are moving into a stage of life, now, where they can partake in at least simple games, because I firmly believe there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned board game to bring friends and family together.
Unlike video or computer games, which seem to me to be isolating and discourage social interaction while you play, board games encourage bonding, inside jokes and conversations that can actually help those playing get to know each other better.
And, under the entertaining surface, they’re actually educational, as well.
For young kids, especially, board and table games teach such things as strategizing and teamwork, learning to be a good loser and a gracious winner, how to wait your turn and follow game rules, and often counting and pattern recognition.
But the best part of games, from my perspective, is the entertainment value.
Like a good movie, a properly carried out game night will offer drama, comedy, action, suspense, climax and, ultimately victory (even if it’s not always your own).
While I also love just sitting around slurping back a drink with friends, chatting about whatever, a game gives your time together a focus and a theme.
No two game gatherings will ever be the same – even if it’s the same game and players.
In this age of social networking (and, yes, I am guilty of texting or messaging my husband on Facebook while we’re in the same house), it’s so refreshing to interact with people away from a screen.
That said, I have a game of Trivial Pursuit scheduled with some dear friends in England, via Skype.
But that’s another story.
I hope my love of table games gets passed down to my kids – not just so that their own lives are made richer and more dynamic, but so that, at least for the next decade or two, I can add them to my roster of enthusiastic team members and /or worthy opponents to draw from.
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