By Sarah Hill, mom of 3 and blogger at Raising Redheads
Usually, when our family plays games, our youngest child Gemma takes a relatively passive role, scooping up whatever discarded tiles/cards/miscellanea we aren’t using. At two and a half, that’s all we could really expect from her. Or so I thought.
A few months ago, as we sat around the table playing Zingo, I tuned into Gemma’s little voice shouting, “Dog!” or “Panda!” or “Stinky Foot!” (It’s actually just a foot, but I suppose in our family, every foot is a stinky foot) She wasn’t just parroting what Ainsleigh (age 8) and Donovan (age 5) were saying – she was recognizing the tiles! So for the next round, we gave her a card after I went through all 9 objects and verified that, yes, she knew them all.
Then we turned her loose. As proud as I was that Gemma was actually playing with us, I was even prouder of the other two kids. See, they love seeing Gemma succeed even more than winning themselves (well, most of the time). They would pause before claiming a tile in case Gemma had it. Not always, but often. And then all clap and squeal right along with her as she filled her card. A part of me wonders if we're setting Gemma up for disappointment later on in life when she realizes the world does not, in fact, revolve around her. But we'll worry about that when we get there, I guess.
Gemma went to bed that night positively giddy. The encouragement from the other kids made my heart swell with love for these little people of mine. I know they won’t always defer to her, but it was pretty wonderful to witness. It’s important for us to encourage each other as we’re learning new things. The challenges will come all too soon. For now, it’s Family Night and Zingo.
We have since added several more ThinkFun games to our evening repertoire (because after a hundred rounds of Zingo, you need something to mix it up!) and two of Gemma’s current favorites are “Snack Attack” and “Bug Trails.” Both require a little more assistance on our part, but since Gemma is now only 3, it’s understandable. My goal is to set her up to be a game master, and I think we’re well on our way. Thanks, ThinkFun, for making Family Night even better!