Bored Games!


Our nine-year old, Julia, and I have an inside joke that she loves to bring up when we are needing to reconnect.  It has to do with the headache-inducing board game “Hedbanz” (yes, that is actually how it is spelled!).  It revolves around the question, “What Am I?” and is the least enjoyable game I have ever had the pleasure of playing with my kids!

I remember the first time we played it.  I was very enthusiastic because I love board games.  I even grew up with my wonderful aunt, Jana Dabney, always introducing our family to new games during the holidays and it became a tradition that I now enjoy with my own family.

And then…Hedbanz.  I am not sure why I dislike this game so much, but the funniest thing has happened because of my disdain for it.  Julia has grown to love it even more!  I still play it with her sometimes and last night after dinner she got that look in her eye and said, “Dad, let’s play [big dramatic pause] THE GAME!”

I told her there was no way I was going to play it.

“I can’t stand that game,” I said.

She was resolute and in no time at all was back at the dinner table and putting the game pieces together for us.

We played and I lost nearly every round.  However, I realize more important things can happen when you are playing a game with your kids.  I watched my little girl laugh until she nearly cried as I fumbled with the questions and the answers, the clues and the rules of the game.  The more I grumbled about the game, the more she laughed.  I think that she won the games but I won the memory.

By the time we said our goodnights, I had to admit to myself that Hedbanz isn’t really all that terrible after all.  Just don’t tell Julia…

‘What’s In A Name?’ – Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico!

Baby Frederico and his Papa loved to play board games. After dinner, they would often choose a game from the loft in Papa’s room and sit in the living room to play. Papa would turn on some of his favorite music while Baby Frederico carefully chose a game board and placed its colorful pieces on their appropriate places.

After a short and funny game of Rush Hour, Papa surprised Baby Frederico with a game that he had first learned to play when he was small. It was called ‘Big Boggle’ and included a large clear box with little squares at its base that included white cubes covered with letters of the alphabet. Papa said it was a game to find as many words within those cubes before the time ran out (it reminded Baby Frederico of an old-fashioned version of Words with Friends!).

As they played, Baby Frederico had an idea of his own. He began to wonder how many words he could make from his own name:


How many can you find?


House of Pages

“Every day, the story of your home is etching itself into the spirit and memory of your children.” – R. Dobson

House of Pages

When the girls were little, they loved to wrestle. Eventually, we turned that unbridled energy and fun into a game called Monster Trap. We would take turns being the monster, whose job it was to stretch out on the floor and pretend to be asleep (a dad’s perfect after-work toddler game, believe me), while everyone else huddled together to plan the best course of action for getting out of the room without “waking up the monster.” If the monster awoke and tagged one of them before they could get out of the room, they in turn became the monster and took their spot on the floor and the whole silly thing would begin again. It was always crazy and funny and loud and interesting to see not only how they planned their course to success, but also what would and would not wake up the monster. And, because they were young, they loved to change the rules on me nearly every week.

Since the kids are older now, we hadn’t played it in a year or more, but that changed just last night at dinner. Our youngest (age 8) was in an unusually somber mood. She described to us a disappointing day in which: her closest friend and cousin was returning home to another state after a month-long stay with us, it was too hot outside to ride bikes, it was bath night, we were eating something new and unusual for dinner, the first chapter of her new book was too boring, her scraped-up knee hurt…among other things.

I can honestly say that I have never heard this sweet kid look more downcast or share such disappointment, so later I mentioned something about our old wrestling days and she immediately got up from her chair at the other end of the table and came to my side. “Dad,” she whispered. “Let’s play Monster Trap tonight. I get to be the monster.”

When they were little, I learned quite a bit about my kids’ personalities during such games. One was quick to jump in and play pretty rough, another held back and chose her moves with great deliberation, while another often got her feelings hurt or feigned some mysterious pain so her sisters would feel badly for her and maybe let her win.

Though we are all a little older and a little wiser now, last night’s monster trap was just as much fun and just as interesting to me. I see again that we are writing and reading and living a new chapter in our lives, a new page of games and words and ways among us.
Looking back and looking ahead, I realize that our children have written themselves so profoundly into this home’s storybook. And they rise and fall, play and plan, laugh and cry, fail and succeed, hope and worry, pray and wonder on every single page of it.