Last night we had family game night. Some families have one every week. I can just see it in all it's Waltonesqueness, a big bowl of shared popcorn and the room filled with laughter. We can only muster one every other month. Sometimes less. Because ours aren't anything like that. It takes at least 60 days to forget that family game night at our house totally sucks. And even that doesn't dispel the memories of shouting matches over who really justifiably monopolized Monopoly. Or who's not at all sorry in Sorry.
As I set up, the kids squabble about what color pawn they want. Even though no one actually wants the same color, this is just part of the pecking order to determine total dominance. Unfortunately, this doesn't end with pawns. Or game night. Anything and everything is fair game for conflict at any time. I read recently in the book The Sibling Effect, that siblings fight every 17 minutes. Times that by 4 kids with 2 dogs to battle over and that is more like every 17 seconds in our house. Seriously, you do the math or just come over and see for yourself. We're always in need a new referee.
Last night we choose a new game to play called Last Word. Wait a minute. The rules sound so familiar. Everyone shouts out answers and races to get the final say before time runs out and a winner is delared. After 10 more minutes of bickering where everyone tries justify their right-ness? It didn't help that the kids were munching from their Halloween candy as we battled. I mean played. Which meant not only was the night feuled by sugar, but also that projectile shards of candy were spit accross the table during the yelling matches. I mean deliberation process. Whatever you want to call it. I call it a recurrent tragedy.
One of many in our house. Like sleep overs. A staple of adolesence. Kids watching movies until their eyes sting, nestled in a warm cozy sleeping bag next to their friends, giggling into the night and trying to see who can stay awake the longest. It all sounds so fun and innocent. Until the next day. When you're left with an exhausted cranky kid who's a whiny, pain in the ass. Just when you think it can't get worse, you mention that their behavior is due to lack of sleep. They offer up their unequivocal denial before confirming that they think you're the most unreasonable parent ever and their life sucks. And nothing seems innocent or fun anymore. This is why I dread sleep overs. And why I refer to them as sleep unders.
I wish I could blame it on the kids, but I can't. Because, of course, I'm the one who approves these things. Is it my unending optomism that things will be different this time? I don't think so. More likely it's guilt. And a heaping dose of denial. That same denial that got me to buy those 6 tickets to an exotic international destination next month. Never mind that I should be saving money to fix our jacked up house. Or that this trip is celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary and we're bringing kids with us. And maybe you don't know our worst recurrent tragedy of all time is traveling together.