I truly believe family life is like a casserole and games are the bonding ingredient. Okay, games kept our children entertained when they were younger and now that they’re older it’s a way to see them before they scatter to hang out with friends.
As a family, we engage in ruckus bouts of Baggo, Croquet, and Bocce Ball. Over the years, we have graduated from Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders, to Boggle, and Chess. What better way to learn the complex strategic game of chess than with pieces that look like the Simpsons? It’s appropriate that Bart represents the annoying pawns.
The Ragazza hates to lose, and when she was little that trait resulted in playing the same game over and over again until she won. When we played Candy land, I would sneak the Mr. Mint and Plumpy cards to the bottom of the deck. It wasn’t that I wanted to win I just didn’t want the game to go on for hours. After the first ten minutes, I craved an ice cream sundae or a huge chocolate bar.
Now that my children are teenagers, they can outwit Mister and I at most games. Playing Monopoly with the boy is like going up against a combination of a bank CEO and Donald Trump. He wins because we’re scared to buy any property that is part of a set he already owns, so he gets the monopoly. We look forward to the refuge of jail, and pray we don’t pick the “get out of jail free” card.
Recently, we purchased a Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Plus. Settling in front of the gaming system, we promptly created Wii characters for all four of us. Mister and I watched as our Wii people stretched out while the characters of our teenagers elongated into sticks with heads. We went on to run, bike, fly, walk a tightrope, and catch hoops. Mister rode his bike off the path and into the water along with the Wii dog running by his side. When he miraculously got back on course, the dog was gone. The fate of the dog is still unknown.
One evening, my fifteen-year-old daughter asked me to compete against her in Mario Kart. I agreed to play even though my record with other Wii games isn’t very good. I don’t think I have ever actually hit the ball in tennis, and the rowing game leaves me thinking that it’s easier to join a crew team. But, Mario Kart is a driving game and I do that everyday. I can dodge trash trucks, swerve around the UPS man, and go from 50 to 0 miles per hour to save a squirrel.
Throughout the game, hurdles pop up everywhere like cows in the middle of the racetrack or airborne rocks. Sometimes you’re racing and doing well until your windshield is splattered with dark splotches that take precious seconds to dissipate. Falling off the side of cliffs, speeding up and down hills, and taking flight over breaks in the track are all components of the heart thumping game. The Ragazza goes on to win all of the races, while calmly lounging on the couch. I come in last every time sitting upright next to her, sweating, struggling, and tensely holding onto the mock steering wheel.
I don’t know if I should be happy or concerned that the Ragazza shows promise as a champion off road racer. But, as a proud veteran driver, I must regain my dignity. So, I secretly play the game by myself and I finish in first place. Thus, proving to myself that I can drive in a virtual world. I just can’t win when I’m racing a teenager.