By Brandy Black
We spent time with my parents, or more commonly the grandparents recently and our children have gotten the Black family fever for good old-fashioned board games, card games, things that don’t require a screen, a speaker or a joystick. We taught them how to play slap-jack and surprisingly our two-year-old twins even stuck with the game. My youngest daughter now asks nightly if we can play Zingo or Candyland. It reminded me of the things I want to steal from my childhood and instill in my children.
Card games – I grew up playing cards with my family on Friday nights, I remember it to be a requirement. If I wanted to hang out with my friends or boyfriends on Friday nights, we did it playing cards. 50’s music blaring we would teach whatever poor sucker had decided to join us what trump was, how to count cards and to steer clear of the mirror behind them. I acted as if I “had” to do card night but I secretly took great pleasure in those evenings at home with the family. Now sitting down playing Candyland with the little ones, they love it and although they fight over who gets what piece sometimes, it generally brings us closer together. I must admit that I’m a fan of some good old-fashioned competition. I like to win. I kinda want my kids to like to win. I think it’s a driving force that makes me excel to do better in life, to always work harder than I did the day before. At anything. Even parenting. Often parenting.
The art of boredom– I was bored a lot as a kid, so bored that I would lock myself in my room and create movies, record myself on a tape cassette, play waitress, go outside and sit in the sun staring up at the clouds, talk to the bird, make up imaginary friends. The point is, boredom became fun. I turned nothing into something. I worry that children these days never bore enough, they are constantly stimulated with some activity, camp, class or play-dates. When planning for this summer, my wife and I settled on less camp more hanging around the house with the younger siblings. As much of a drag as we all feared it might be, it has turned out to be a success. The children have grown closer. Our oldest makes up games for all of them to play, creates scavenger hunts and now for the first time ever gets them dressed and ready to go out.
Throw parties– I grew up in a bit of a hippie household as much as my parents may hate me to admit it. There were always people at our house and my mother was known for throwing a good party. It’s a thing I hope I’ve inherited from her. Thanksgiving would fill our house with friends, strangers, and relatives. There were generally always games involved in the parties, charades, badminton, cards, the bigger the crowd the better. I remember falling asleep to music playing and the familiar sounds of laughter. I firmly believe in a standard bedtime for the children, I’m maniacal about it but when there’s a party, all bets are off.
Rules are made to be broken– I’m not sure if my parents instilled this one or if I took it and ran with it but I stand firm that rules have a purpose a very important purpose and it’s good to be clear and firm, never waiver, let your kids know why they are important to you and what the consequences are. But…rules are made to be broken and it’s oh so fun when you break them. So find a few rules to break, see how it feels when you let your kids eat in the living room for dinner one night or have a food fight on a summer afternoon.
Everything in moderation– I remember my dad telling me this when we were in Australia, I’ll always remember taking a long walk with him and hearing him explain that you should always do you things you love, sometimes, even if they aren’t great for you but do them in moderation. Never take anything to the extreme and it won’t be truly bad for you. I love this concept of balancing my life with sweet and savory, messy and tidy, rebellion and order,reckless abandon and prudent restraint. The yin and the yang of life make it a deliciously wonderful exciting place to be.
The perfect person is flawed– I had this epiphany one night on a date with my wife when we were discussing the things we wanted our children to learn from us. We want to teach our kids to have the ability to recover quickly from mistakes and wrong turns and that it is actually in the reaction and recovery than it is in the ability to remain perfect. I want my children to have grit, to learn that life is rough sometimes, to see that sharp unexpected curves can come out of nowhere and I want them to react and be ready to make the best of mistakes they will inevitably make.
With these things, I have found great pleasure and hope to share these nuggets of wisdom with my kids too.