Ah, family game night.  That evening when your happy, well behaved, clean children gather with their patient, smiling parents at a spotless kitchen table once a week to laugh together.  Unless you are playing at my house.

At my house, family game night always seems like a good idea.  To The Pastor.  You see, it appears The Pastor has a horrible memory and doesn’t remember the last 200 family game nights and how they ended.  He also has probably seen one too many Milton Bradley commercials and believes deep down inside that great big heart of his that this time will be different.  This time our family will be normal.

Our family is not normal.

So on any random night The Pastor will announce “I think we should have a family game night!”

All of the children will cheer excitedly and jump up and down.  Apparently I am the only member of the family who doesn’t suffer from short term memory loss.  I force a great big smile onto my face and say “Yippee!”, while on the inside I’m thinking “Oh crap!  How can I put a stop to this?!”

I can not put a stop to this.

Like the end of the world, a game is now inevitable and something I will just have to suffer through.

Our first tragic mistake is usually in the choosing of the game.  For some insane reason we always let one of the younger two children choose the game.  Throughout the history of our family, children under the age of seven have three requirements for the games they choose.

  1. It must involve large amounts of reading or complex mathematics.
  2. All participants must be required to follow complicated directions.
  3. It must take a long, long, long time to complete.

In our collection of a couple dozen games, we have maybe two that fit all of these requirements.  These two games seem to be the only acceptable games for the under seven crowd.

Once the game is chosen, The Pastor will look cheerfully at the game chosen and say “That’s okay, we can play as teams!”

No, we will not play as teams.  You see, one thing I forgot to mention is that I am a teeny tiny bit competitive.  Competitive people are easily identified by our intense dislike of group work or teams.  I absolutely hated it in college and I hate it today, because if you think I’m going to let some short person who can barely tie their shoes stand in the way of my world domination, you’ve got another thing coming.  Unfortunately, that speech didn’t get me too far with my college professors.  It turns out, I don’t have to resort to that speech with my family, though, because my children hate teams about as much as I do.

“No!  I can play by myself!” One of the smaller children will insist.

That child will then not so secretly be my favorite for the night.

The Pastor will then put in a good twenty minutes trying to convince the smaller children that being on Daddy’s team will be “super fun and cool!”.  The children are not convinced.  My children have inherited two things from me.  One is their unbelievable good looks.  The other is their stubbornness.  Also, I may have them write “Teams are for babies” as handwriting practice every week.

Finally the game playing begins.  As the first smallish child struggles to sound out the long, college level vocabulary words on their first card, we all sit and wait patiently.  For a very long time.  As we wait, I will smile at the pastor and mouth words like “I will kill you” or “You will suffer for this”.   The pastor will then give me his most pleasant look and say something like “I love you too, sweet heart.”

Then I glare, because that man is about to lose.

Finally the youngest child’s first turn is over and my domination begins.

I may seem sweet and mild mannered on the outside, but when it comes to games, I’m out for blood.  I don’t care whose blood.  Phrases like “In your face!” and “Booyah!” will slip into my vocabulary.  I might also perform victory dances and sing songs that sound an awful lot like “nanner nanner nanner”.

After about six hours of playing our board game (remember, they chose the longest game and insist on reading every word themselves) one of the younger children will say “Okay, I’m done now.”

This is not acceptable.

“Um, no.”  I say  “You can’t just be done.  Nobody has won the game yet.  Nobody is done until somebody wins.”

“Okay.” the child responds “You can win.  I’m done” and then they CASUALLY WALK AWAY!!!

It’s as if they are spitting on all that I stand for in life.  It’s like they are just flushing all that I care about down the toilet!  It’s as if they are not even my child!!!

This is the part where I lose it.  I didn’t win.  Nobody won.  It’s like some weak forfeit and I will not have it.  I insist that everybody sit in their chair and continue to play out the game.  We are not quitters!  I do not believe in participation awards and unless we are talking about cigarettes, you had better not let me catch you quitting anything.

At first there is just whining.  Then the complaining starts.  Soon the super independent child decides to let Mommy and Daddy read the card after all.  Eventually the crying starts.  We are all crying.  Crying because this game should have been named Purgatory so that consumers would know that it is just a step up from hell and that it never ends.  Finally we resort to teams because The Pastor promises us that teams will make the game go faster.  The Pastor is lying.  Nothing will make this game go faster.  We are destined to pay for all of our sins via this never ending game of the devil.

And then we have a winner.

Yes, the winner is almost always me.  I don’t like to lose.  But before I even have time to bask in my glory or rub my victory in anyone’s face, everyone scrambles to their beds. Because it is now 2am and they are tired.  This leaves me alone to celebrate with a week “Good job, Snarky!  I knew you could do it!” and put all of those stupid cards away.

In the trash.