Mo­nop­oly night fun

The Covington News - - Newton at play - Kari Apted Colum­nist Kari Apted may be reached at kari@kari­apted.com.

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.

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