Monopoly night fun
If your house includes a “Naughty Chair,” “Naughty Spot” or “Naughty Step,” you are probably like me, a big fan of ABC’s reality show “Supernanny.”
If you’ve never seen it, Supernanny is Jo Frost. She’s a charming but strict British woman who goes into people’s homes to teach them how to overcome their biggest parenting obstacles. Most of the time, the answer is putting the child on one of the above-mentioned naughty places for a quite orderly time-out.
And it usually works, not so much because of any magic attached to timeout, but because Jo makes sure the parents define, and then follow through with consequences for bad behavior. Obviously, as kids get older, time-outs are replaced with the loss of privileges.
I love that show, probably for the same reasons that people can’t help rubbernecking at a car accident along the highway. It’s just crazy to witness the wreckage that some families live with on a daily basis. And it’s scary to see how many parents raise their kids without enforcing consequences for bad behavior — and I’m always astounded by how many parents are clueless that they should discipline their kids at all.
Watching “Supernanny” reassures me that there actually are worse parents than me and my husband. And that my children aren’t that horribly behaved after all.
Anyway, on last week’s episode, she had an “Ask Supernanny” feature where the question was, “How do I get my preteens or teenagers to spend more time with the family?” If I remember correctly, the answer choices were A. Take the TV and computer out of their bedrooms. B. Tell them they can’t spend time with their friends without spending time with the family first.
C. Schedule family time at least twice a week, and stick to it.
I chose all of the above. Zach chose option C. 8-year-old Eli initially chose B, but changed his answer to match mine — smart kid.
Or maybe not so smart. Zach chose the correct answer, C, and I found that profound for two reasons.
One, he turns 13 this Sunday, prompting a whole other column next week about that big milestone. So he truly was best person in this house to answer that question.
Two — and I am beyond embarrassed to admit this –— he pretty regularly asks that we spend family time together. And we pretty regularly say no, or let other tasks interfere with making that family time happen.
My husband I owe each other a good, swift kick in the rear end for brushing him off like that. It’s hard to always give the older boys the attention they need now that we also have a toddler into everything, but they grow up so fast. If I want Zach to continue to request time with his family, I have to make it a non-negotiable priority now.
So, Sunday night, when he asked us to play Monopoly, our automatic reaction was to say no. There is always so much on the to-do list — no time for games. But then I remembered Supernanny’s advice and realized I’d have to rearrange my priorities to make sure we don’t let the urgent items choke out the important things to do.
Because what’s really more important than parents spending quality time with their kids?
So we sat down to play Monopoly, intending to stop at one hour, calculate our assets and declare a winner. But we ended up playing for three hours — a miracle, considering that little Jonah was in and out of mischief the entire time. We played until my transportation mogul, Eli, stockpiled most of the cash and left the other three of us with about twenty bucks apiece and stacks of mortgaged properties, with no hope of recovering.
But it was so much fun. The hours just flew by. It reminded me of my childhood, when we didn’t have 300 cable channels, video games and the Internet to keep us busy. We had a hall closet overflowing with board games and played them all the time.
I wasn’t great at Monopoly then, and obviously, that hasn’t changed. But I’m happy to be a game loser forever if it might help me win at motherhood.