Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bored Games

With the recent torrential downpours, the Mill Creek Athletic Association in Gwinnett County cancelled all of the weekend baseball games by Friday as the fields were such a mess. It proved to be the right decision as rain continued through the weekend.

So, with my kids cooped up in the house, we talked about what to do. The boys wanted to go see a movie. Normally, we wouldn’t mind this, but both my sons had their hearts set on G.I. Joe. I saw no problem with taking my older son to it. However, both my wife and I were convinced that the movie was much too violent for our 7-year old. (Yes, he pouted.)

However, from there, we turned to board games. My kids have several games they like: Braves Monopoly, Tank Battle (game from my era, but a cool one), Sorry, and Battleship. However, their favorite game is Risk. For those of you unfamiliar with Risk, it’s a board game where the object is to take over the world. The board is a world map subdivided into 42 sections (Antarctica not included). The players start with an equal number of sections and attack and defend with rolls of dice.

It’s an entertaining game. My sons have favorite places on board, like Japan (because they’ve been there) and Madagascar (because of the movie). However, my 7-year old has interesting names for some of the areas on the board.

“Daddy, I’m attacking New Jersey.”

“It’s New Guinea.”

“I’m taking over Queen Bee.”

“That’s Quebec.”

“Daddy, where’s A-Gyt?”

“Egypt,” I respond. “It’s in Africa.”

My kids get excited as they take territory. However, as shown above, they have problems with some of the names. As fun as the game is, though, there is always one part that makes me stop and think.

“Daddy, where’s Af-Af-Af?”

“Af-ghan-i-stan,” I say. Slowly.

“Afghanistan,” my 7-year old repeats. “What’s that?”

And that’s when I stop. Kids know we have soldiers fighting for our country. And you can explain that Afghanistan is one of those places. But how much farther do you go after that? When is the proper time to discuss issues like these with your kids? Is a rainy Saturday afternoon the time to discuss with your kids the lives of real G.I. Joes?

Readers, what do you think?


Jody Hedlund said...

Sounds like you had a LOT of fun! My son absolutely LOVES board games--especially Risk. In fact, he has quite a number of "war" related games like Memoir 44 and Axis and Allies. I'm not sure what it is about those kind of games that attracts boys! :) But I think you're right, it opens the door to talk about deeper issues about war and what's REALLY going on in the world.

Shelley Coriell said...


Age-appropriate awareness of current events is crucial in a global society and it goes a long way in fostering everything from critical thinking to empathy. In our house, we've talked about Afghanistan with the our three tween/teen daughters and ended up having wonderfully thoughtful discussions on Islam and women's rights. I've found with my girls and even my scouts that one of the best ways to approach "tougher" topics is to ask, "What do you think (or know) about xyz?"

By the way, my girls are huge game players and love Whoonu, Balderdash, Life, and Apples to Apples. Less strategy...more touchy-feely. Joy!

Walt M said...

Jody, Boon, and Shelley,

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it. Playing board games with your kids is a great way to spend time with them and it does help broaden them a little. Shelley, I don't know how I'd do in board games with girls. My niece is the only little girl among my sibling's kids. My niece is a long way from even being a tween.

Marley Delarose, Author said...

A thoughtful post, Walt. Cute title. That's kind of like the question about when to talk to your kids about sex. Seems like when the opening presents itself so I imagine you have to prepare yourself for how you will respond on this subject just like the other. That's from a former 'kid's' perspective since I haven't had kids.

Walt M said...

Marley, thanks for dropping by. Even people without kids are welcome here.