We’re only a month into summer break here, although it seems like it’s been much longer. That’s the sign of a good summer vacation, though, right? When it lasts forever and you can barely remember the last day of school anymore, you’re doing it right.
We’ve been busy and not busy, here and there, and filling up evenings with some funny new activities- including teaching the children to gamble. That seems like an important skill to learn when there’s no actual money at stake, and so Matt and I have convinced ourselves that it’s actually quite good parenting.
So far we’ve taught the kids Blackjack and Texas Hold ’em and Matt and I watch with amusement and sideways glances as each child catches on to the games at different points and suddenly the betting changes drastically. We have some cautious betters and some ALL-IN betters in this house and the contrast is clear when we play. Poker seems as good a way as any to gain insight into your kids’ inner workings.
We also started playing RISK, one of those long-drawn out games like Monopoly that spread out over several nights in a row. Like poker, Risk throws into sharp relief the different personalities at play: which kids are more strategic thinkers, which kids are willing to throw caution to the wind and which kids are decidedly not, and which kid is six moves ahead in his mind, but therefore cannot fully see the move he’s actually on.
Funnily enough, in both games we’ve played out to the bitter end, Gabe has ended up achieving world domination. If you’d have asked me before we ever played if he would be the one who took over the planet, I would have said no flat out. But it turns out he’s really good at looking at the map and seeing where he should strengthen his forces and how he can move across the space. He knows when to stop attacking and when to shore up, he is patient, and he is quite pleased with himself. This makes his siblings crazy.
Owen is way too risky – he cannot see when it’s time to stop battling and he gets his armies spread too thin in his quest to take over the world all at once on every turn. Then he gets crushed on the next time around the board. Bridget is afraid to commit fully to any battle and as soon as she starts losing armies, she backs off and won’t risk losing so she never actually wins. And Quinn doesn’t quite see the strategy yet – he doesn’t see where he’s strong near someone else who is weak, so he sort of haphazardly chooses his battles and just likes to roll the dice and hope for the best.
We’ve had arguments, allegiances, laughter, and some choked back tears if the truth be told. We’ve let the kids stay up way too late some nights and paid for it in spades the next day. As this chilly, drizzly England summer rolls on we’re making memories that I only hope my children will treasure the way I know I will. I’m hoping for another summer ten years down the line when we all laugh about that rainy July in England when Gabe took over the world.
Long live summer.