Do we have to?

If my mum had suggested that we play a board game when I was a child I think I would have died of joy on the spot. That's not to say that we never played games, it more that the occasions when we did, were few and far between. Generally we played card games when we went on caravan holidays and other games during the Christmas holidays. Other than that, it would be a real red letter day for such a thing to occur. Perhaps it’s something to do with being an older parent?

It is with this mind set that I approach my own children, “older” but not necessarily wiser.
My daughters are always eager, willing and enthusiastic. Not so the boys.

The suggestion of playing a game is always greeted similarly. It is a predictable as night follows day, which is why you need to be mentally prepared prior to commencement. You can pick a game, any game and make the suggestion. The suggestion is made verbally, with enthusiasm, the visual clue of the game box in your hand on bended knee. Assuming that the message penetrates in the first place the response is always 'why?' I know this is what they will say, and whilst I thank the speech gods that they are able to tell me this, at the same time, it reminds me that it is often the most simple concepts that are the most difficult to explain – because it will be fun, because we will enjoy ourselves, laugh together…………. Whatever the magic words are, I have yet to find them.

I know that I will have to herd and bribe the boys to come to the table – play this game with me and as a reward you can………… [fill in the current obsession]
Bizarre! The game should be the reward in my book, but that is of course because I have the wrong book and I'm definitely on the wrong page.

So saying, after all these years I have finally worn them down. They will play the game, sometimes perfunctorily and occasionally with a modicum of enjoyment, but I suspect that they're doing it for me, rather than as a pleasurable form of entertainment for themselves. There again, such selflessness on their part, as well as this additional nugget of evidence to thwart the theory of mind, gives me considerable delight.

Now they will come to the table, muttering the kind of phrases that you get from teenagers when they finally capitulate and agree to do their chores; “Alright, I'm coming,” they sigh, dragging their little bodies over in slow motion, deflated and drained.

Hey, it's compliance! No complaints from me, and I get to ‘practice’ teenagers a decade in advance.

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