There were a lot of claims and comments I made to and about parents before I had kids that I have since done my best to block out. (To my friend with a bored 3-year-old: “Why can’t you just put her in a room with some books for a couple hours?” To my husband: “I will never be a slave to the nap.”) Only one that I can remember has actually stood the test of time and it was this one: “I will not let my kids play handheld games at a restaurant table.” I’m not going to sit here and say it hasn’t been tempting. And truth be told, in order to stay the course, I frequently find myself re-defining the term “restaurant” (a seafood shack with outdoor seating doesn’t count right?) and “handheld games” (the Cooking Mama app for the iPhone is not a game — it’s both relevant and instructive!) But for the most part, we’ve survived those long stretches between appetizers and entrees with three simple no-battery-required games:
1) Raise Your Hand If… This was my daughter’s invention. It simply involves saying “Raise your hand if…you’re wearing blue.” Or “Raise your hand if…you had pizza for lunch today.” Or “Raise your hand if you can find the person in the room wearing a red hat.” You get the idea. It’s amazing how many rounds you can go.
2) Word/Not a Word. I first heard about this from my friend Sally who does this with her husband and two kids. It’s exactly as it sounds. You say a word, say, “Disestablishmentarianism” and the kids get to guess whether you made it up or not. In general, the skill set here overlaps nicely with those required of Balderdash players.
3) Twenty Questions or “I’m Thinking of Something.” You know this one well. One person thinks of something and it’s up to everyone else at the table to ask yes/no questions in order to guess what it is. We always start off with “Person, Place, or Thing.” And with young kids in the mix, we extend it from 20 questions to at least 200. The chicken and french fries will usually arrive before they arrive at the answer.
photo credit: iStock