When Board Games Brought Our Family Together On Lockdown Evenings
Those of us who forgot the charms of board games have been reunited with them during our time indoors and found joy
“No, mummaaaa! I didn’t do it!” My younger one was at it again. She had dodged the dice to get a six like always and I had caught her. Witnessing her drama, the older one was giggling uncontrollably and teasing her. Husband, who had tried to defend her earlier, also joined the laughter club.
Like most kids of the ’80s and ’90s I had spent a significant part of my childhood playing board games. They had kept us enthralled during the sweltering summer breaks, travelling with us in cars and trains; to hill stations and beach holidays. We knew very few of them—Ludo to Snakes and Ladders and Business to Chess and Chinese Checkers—but loved them all. Until, of course, we grew up one day and forgot all about them. As a parent I would often plan to play board games with my children but it never worked out: I neither had the time nor the patience. Until now that is.
It started with a simple game of Ludo on a particularly long evening. Cooped up for weeks, under the lockdown, we were done with everything we could possibly do. The Netflix phase was over, gadgets had lost their charm, books had stopped calling out to us, and everyone was sick of calling everyone else—I noticed how our parents had stopped being excited about video calls.
A welcome break from Netflix? (Photo: Shutterstock)
So Ludo it was that evening. The girls, used to more complex board games, were at once amused and dismissive of its simplicity and yet they seemed to enjoy every move. Waiting for a six, beating the other player, being told that three sixes could lead to a foul, and getting their little pawn home—they were suddenly hooked to it. In less than a week both had mastered not only Ludo but also Snakes and Ladders. These games always come together, remember?
Ludo done, it was our turn to graduate to their choice of games. Life, Cluedo, Guess Who, Monopoly, Scrabble—boxes that had been gathering dust for years were brought out, pamphlets diligently read and explained, roles and duties assigned, and a strict schedule was fixed. We had become the children and our children, our parents, letting us discover the new world of board games.
In the past few weeks our evenings have gone from being the most dreaded time of the day to the most cherished one.Boards are laid on the cool marble floor much before we can finish work; snacks are kept ready and chilled lemonade is made much in advance. Having become masters of the dice, the girls are not only winning every game, but also trying their hand at cheating sometimes. We, meanwhile, have learnt to manoeuvre complicated steps we had never heard of let alone play; with the long summer break ahead of us we hope to master them soon.
There has been some learning too: Monopoly has taught the little one tables better than any math book did; Scrabble has brought the elusive teenager close to us once again, and Cluedo has made us all amateur detectives.
Monopoly: the best maths teacher? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Despite the stress and exhaustion that has gone on endlessly, these sessions of cheer, banter and quarrels have filled our home and hearts with laughter and happiness and will hopefully continue to do so in the weeks to come. Yes, there is much to worry about in the world, but there is a lot to be grateful for still—our sessions with the kids every evening are testimony.