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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The Candyland Classroom

Today's guest post is from Katrina, at Notes On A Napkin. Katrina is one of my favorite mommy bloggers. She writes about all the usual parent topics, but always with a fresh perspective. I can easily imagine some day lining up at Borders to have her autograph a copy of Notes On A Napkin - The Book. Katrina has just started a new job as a kindergarten teacher, which should come naturally for her, as she's been teaching her own two kids for years. And that is the subject of her guest post...

The Candyland Classroom
by Katrina, Notes On A Napkin

Katie was clearly agitated as she rattled the dice around in her hand, preparing to roll them again onto the Monopoly board. Paul had already been knocked out of play, the hapless victim of a harshly worded Community Chest card. Katie, Caleb, and I were left jockeying for position on a board covered with fully developed real estate, where fortunes could be won and lost in a single flick of the wrist. Katie’s competitive streak was showing as she waited to see how the dice would land. A three, a five, or a six would spell certain doom for her Rockefeller dreams, casting her onto one of my hotel-endowed orange properties, where the $1000 rent would wipe out all that was left of her meager assets.

The tension was as thick as peanut butter.

Finally, she rolled. A six. And just like that, she was out of the game.

I steeled myself for the freshet of tears and frustration that I knew would come. Instead, only a tiny "Aww, man!" escaped her lips as she gathered up what was left of her brightly colored currency to hand it over to me. Then she turned to her brother and said brightly, “Well, it’s your turn, Caleb. Hey, if you get a four, you can buy the last railroad!”

I know my jaw dropped. Where was the howl of disappointment, the theatrical glare of misplaced anger? Where was the drama? Paul and I glanced at each other, bemused but cautiously optimistic at Katie’s quick recovery. Could it be that all of our efforts to teach good sportsmanship were paying off at last?

We’ve been playing board games with our kids since they were old enough to identify the colors on the Candyland cards. That’s hundreds of hours of spinning spinners, rolling dice, and popping the little popper thingy on the Trouble board; thousands of ladders and thousands of chutes; Memory match after Memory match in countless weekday morning competitions. What started out as a way to entertain an easily distracted three year old soon became an important family bonding time and an apt training ground for many of life’s most important lessons:

Be honest.
Be fair.
Pay attention.
Think ahead.
Choose wisely.
Decisions have consequences.
Bad things happen, and we can’t always control that.
Good things happen, and we can’t control that, either.
Be a good loser.
Be a good winner.
Have fun.
People before things.
If you fail, try again.
Never give up.
It’s not over until it’s over.
Always finish the game.

Sure, one rainy afternoon of playing Monopoly may not turn our kids into solid citizens, but spending time with them, allowing them to see these lessons at work not just across the dining room table but on the playing field, in the workplace, and in every facet of our lives as we willingly share our days with them, will go a long way toward instilling the values we hold dear in the people we hold dearer.

Playing board games is just one way to do that. And once the Chutes and Ladders days are behind you, it’s a pretty painless way, too.

Be sure to visit Notes On A Napkin for more mommy insight!


Blogger Tracey said...

Lovely analogy for life! I am always amazed when my kids show great sportsmanship like that. It's a hopeful glimpse into their futures...

5:17 AM  
Blogger TREY MORGAN said...

Wow, she is good. Thanks for the heads up.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Writer Dad said...

I just found myself on Alltop, and I popped over to find out what it was, and see who my neighbors are. I'll look through your archives, but I have to say I really liked this guest post, and want to check out Notes on a Napkin as well. Thanks!

9:10 AM  
Blogger Reading Mom said...

Wow, Katrina on your blog. I love her blog and have visited it for a year or so. How neat to see that she is one of your favorites too.

She is a great writer with wonderful insight.

As are you.

6:15 AM  
Blogger RosieBoo said...

Board games truly are lessons for life...I love that! Great idea to get Katrina as a guest blogger....she's so wonderful :) I'm a groupie..

9:46 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I too am an avid Katrina reader! Such a fun post...and a great list too! With Gustav and all of his rain looming in the gulf I can see lots of board games in our future this week. Everytime we lose power, the kids are quick to pull out UNO. The colors and numbers are easily identified by preschoolers so it's our usual game of choice. Thanks for sharing Katrina with others!

2:32 PM  

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