It’s been cold for months in NYC, really cold at times. This has led to a tremendous amount of indoor family togetherness, which, in turn, has resulted in a constantly messy house, lots of squabbling, and some truly inventive name calling. It hasn’t been all bad, a few new cocktails have been explored, we introduced the kids to The Brady Bunch and Mork & Mindy on DVD (apparently, a family with six kids, a huge house and a maid is far more exotic and suspect than a shazbotting, zany alien from the planet Ork), and, the real lifesaver, we’ve started playing UNO as a family. Not to sound too much like Mike Brady preaching his corny (yet oddly timely) nuggets of wisdom on sharing, loyalty and playing ball in the house, but we’ve found some unforced teachable moments in these marathon games of UNO and learned a few things about our kids–how they think, how they scheme, and how they win and lose.
Our four year old, who we didn’t think would grasp the game and would have to be a “helper”, has turned out the be the real card shark in the family, schooling the rest of us more often than not. Our 7 year old has improved her math skills and is able to quickly add double digits in her head (addition is easier when you’re kicking parental butt). Both have gotten to be better strategists and are learning the ups and downs of taking risks. They are uncharacteristically focused and patient when we’re playing, and more complimentary of each other. More importantly, we’ve started sitting down together more as a family. Just hanging out. No phones, no computers, no interruptions. UNO has been great for shaking up our normal family dynamic and has sort of equalized things between our kids: no one is in charge, no one knows more than anyone else, and no one is the better player. It’s not easy finding something that a 4 year old boy, a 7 year old girl and two adults pushing 40 genuinely want to do that doesn’t involve fair weather, some type of screen, or spending money. As we have a good month of unpredictable weather in most parts of the country, it’s worth picking up a deck of UNO if you don’t already have one.
We’d love to hear what’s kept you and yours sane this winter.