My house is apparently like a cruise ship in dire need of an activities director.
I had no idea, of course.
And without having to post a single job listing, my 7-year-old daughter, Mara, applied, was offered and accepted the position.
Our family has never been on a cruise ship or to any other kind of activity-guided getaway, so it isn’t as if Mara is drawing on an experience of watching a fun-maker in action. I think she just saw that if she wanted us to do the things she wanted to do, she needed to come up with a gimmick.
And so one day, out of the blue, Mara announced that, moving forward, Friday nights would be game night.
The rest of us had no objections. Who doesn’t love a good theme night? Not this family.
We had already turned Taco Tuesday into a standing weekly event. Wednesday night is brinner — aka breakfast for dinner — which guarantees an evening helping of chocolate chip pancakes. It was a very clever maneuver on the part of the children.
Initially, we were only limited by the game options we had on hand — Candy Land, UNO and chess. But that all changed after generous aunts, cousins and grandparents loaded us up over the holidays.
First it was a marathon of Monopoly over Thanksgiving. Then my 9-year-old son, Declan, got a deck-building game called Star Realms, which became the kids’ Christmas break obsession. Currently, they’re all about the game of Life.
It should come as no surprise to me that my children look for any excuse to get a game going.
Growing up, I was a bit of a board game enthusiast. So it’s practically baked into their DNA. When I was in seventh grade, I would go over to my friend’s house most days after school and we would listen to Asia’s “Alpha” album on her turntable and fire up a game of Life. We did this for months. It wasn’t boredom that brought this afternoon ritual to an end; my friend moved away and took her game with her.
And while the kids love to play games, their real passion is winning. So far, both are gracious victors; not the rub-it-in-your-face kind of winner like, say, their dad.
Yes, thanks to my husband, I don’t think either of our children will ever be able to hear Queen’s “We Are the Champions” without immediately recalling an image of their gloating father doing victory laps around the room.
This past Christmas took our game night to a different level when Santa left a Nintendo Switch under the tree. And practically overnight, “Mario Kart” became the kids’ latest obsession.
While Declan and Mara may have found a new way to compete with one another, I have found a new appreciation for Friday game night. It would appear that having just one evening designated for gaming saves me from overusing the word “no.”
I’d hate to wear it out on denied Nintendo access when I need it to work effectively in answering real questions, like, “How about I don’t finish my dinner, but I still get dessert?” Or, “What about I do my homework later?”
I wish we could set aside one day for ridiculous questions. But alas, as of now it’s an all-day, every-day habit.
Molly Cavanaugh of Channel 94.1 FM’s “Big Party Show” in Omaha is a mom to two children living in Chicago. She writes weekly for Momaha.com.