Sunday, January 19, 2014

Middle School Munchkins

On the scale of Favorite Years, I'm pretty sure this one is not going to rank very high. [Yes, that is a thing, the Favorite Year scale; it's not my fault if you've never heard of it before.] As I was talking about here, this year all of my kids are moving up to the "next thing" and I'm not enjoying that at all. bah! on aging! No my aging; I don't mind that, but, man, I just want my kids to quit growing up. Where's the reverse?


My middle kid, the younger boy, just turned 13. [We're working on his high school applications, right now. HIGH SCHOOL APPLICATIONS! Why is that a thing?] His birthday party, which involved a bunch of middle school boys sleeping over, was this past weekend. On the plus side, it's easy to entertain middle school boys, so a boy sleep over requires much less work than a girl sleep over. I say that from experience. Still, it was a lot of noise. [Seriously, it was a lot of noise. One of the boys (who had never been over before) has a rather booming voice (which I knew), and he's one of those people (like my son) who has to loudly exclaim at everything happening during a video game.]

The definite highlight of the evening was the game of Munchkin. None of the boys had ever heard of it and were a little apathetic about the idea of sitting down and playing a card game. I suppose board games, or anything that resembles a board game, are completely out of fashion these days. But my son really wanted to play, so I insisted. Ironically, that included having to force him to quit playing Minecraft on his friend's laptop (which shouldn't have been here to begin with because we had a no electronic devices rule in effect (because, last year, the boys did bring their devices and spent the whole evening isolating themselves on electronic crack). Apparently, my son conveniently "forgot" to tell this one particular boy not to bring his electronics, this boy being his main Minecraft buddy. [The underlying issue here is that my son's computer is ailing, especially the video card, and will no longer run Minecraft without crashing. The computer is nearly a decade old, so I can hardly blame it. At any rate, my son hasn't been able to play Minecraft (except for rare occasions when he gets to at someone else's house) for at least six months, now, so I'm mostly okay with this bringing his laptop and letting my son play Minecraft on it. Still, I had to kick my son off of it so that we could do what he wanted to do in the first place.]

Can I just say, right now, how difficult it is to set up a game like this with a bunch of middle school boys all asking questions at the same time, some of which are relevant but most of which are... less so. And all of them repeating, "Can we look at our cards?" while already doing it, so it was a good thing they could look at the cards or I would have had to re-deal about seven times. I say seven times (even though there were only four boys) because they would have compulsively looked at their cards anyway, even after being told not to, if that had been the case. I know this because three of them kept picking up cards they'd already played and putting them back in their hands and two of them kept trying to discard cards they didn't want to be holding no matter how many times I told them that they couldn't just discard cards and one of them kept trying to trade "door" cards even though you can't trade "door" cards. So, yeah, getting through the setup took much longer than expected.

But once we started playing, it was a magnificent event! They were the most back-stabby players I've ever seen. One moment, one of them would be helping another of them; the next, he would be tossing a curse on him. It was both awesome and hilarious and made for an exciting game. They had no compunction and would do their best to make sure everyone lost every fight. Until... until they ran out of cards to make each other lose. It was a lot of fun, and they immediately wanted to start another game, but it was nearly midnight, and I had to just say no.

They also wanted to play immediately the next morning, but I had to cook breakfast for them and stuff and, by the time they were finishing up with their food, a couple of them had to leave, so we never got in another game. It was a big hit, though.

In other news, I am now on twitter. I'm still trying to figure the whole thing out, but feel free to follow my twitterings. I'll probably even follow you back.


  1. At least they got excited about playing a game that wasn't electronic. My wife and I still play board and card games. (And we don't even have kids.)

  2. What a fun story! I can't imagine entertaining a group of MG boys, but you had it all under control. And the no electronic rule is so smart! You're right - enjoy these years because they pass too quickly.

  3. Yours is about the only electronics vs. non-electronics rule that makes sense: not having them if they isolate people rather than play together. I don't mind that. Otherwise, I get annoyed when people proclaim that "real" games are better than "electronic" games. I LOVED board games growing up, Risk and Stratego and then Axis & Allies and such, and we even played them well into our adulthood.

    But nothing makes them 'better' or 'worse' than electronic games: Electromonopoly uses the exact same amount of energy/skill/imagination as regular Monopoly. It's like "books vs. ebooks," or people who rant about 'screens'.

    And electronic versions of games might be better: have you ever tried to play Risk with little kids around? I HAVE. It's awful. I'd play electronic Risk, though.

    Anyway, that's MY rant. Your party sounds fun. I'm sorry your kids are growing up, but as someone who's had 60% of his kids grow up, i can tell you, they can be equally interesting when they are older. Not MY kids, of course. They seem to have simply turned into walking bundles of legal questions ("Can you sue _____ for me?" is typically written into my birthday cards). But OTHER PEOPLE's kids, I understand, manage to become fully-formed, functioning adults.

  4. Board and card games can be great fun. There are a ton of great games out there, but most people don't take the time to learn them (some of them are quite complex).

    Good for you for getting those guys to sit down and unplug for a while!

  5. We used to play board games here some, but the boys typically whined the whole time. Risk, Settlers of Catan, anything that took more than 30 seconds per turn was impossible. We ended up giving up on them.

    I think I talked about Munchkin already. Great game.

    And now the boys typically just want to use out place as a storage facility for thier crap and little else. So I do miss the days when they whined - but at least were here.

  6. ADSL: Okay! I did!

    Alex: We'd play more if we didn't so quickly run out of hours.

    Lexa: >sigh< They do.

    Briane: I think electronic games are fine, but we don't have the equipment for all of them to do the same thing at the same time. Unfortunately.
    And, yeah, I don't play games with pieces with little kids. Or games with cards. Disaster.

    JeffO: I love board and card games. The main issue here is the time one.

    Rusty: We've never had a whining problem over playing (well, except sometimes with my daughter), only with losing. In fact, we quit all games for a while because one of the kids was having a tantrum issue whenever the losing was happening.

  7. It's true, Munchkin is the most fun when everyone's willing to backstab each other. Or, I guess, gender change one another with reckless abandon.

    Also, we would tweet with you but we gave up on Twitter long ago. Our Twitter feed is a graveyard of lost thoughts that almost no one pays attention to, like Google+.

  8. Electric crack. Probably the most apt name I've heard for it. I'm still not giving it up, though. And you are on Twitter now. You're even more plugged in. Soon you will be one of us.

  9. ABftS: The gender change cards never came up. It was upsetting.

    I am noticing that about twitter. I have not had a single response to anything I have just tweeted. What, exactly, is the point?

    Jeanne: So far, I'm not really seeing the appeal.

  10. Glad you introduced them to a fun game~ that sort of thing always feels like a victory when teens are involved.

    I just followed you on Twitter~ as for people responding to your tweets, they might not always do that sort of thing. If they follow a ton of people, sometimes tweets get lost in the shuffle. I use it mainly to follow industry folks who give advice and writing/reading fans who sometimes offer recommendations or give heads up info about contests. I follow some sports people just to see what they have to say. And I follow my favorite authors because they sometimes have news about their books and such. I didn't even tweet at all for quite awhile~ I just kind of stalked people to see what they had to say and then eventually I started being a little more active.

  11. Jessica: I'm actually pretty sure that twitter is just a game of Donkey. You know that scene in Shrek where Donkey is jumping up and down saying "pick me! pick me!" Yeah, that's what it is. Where people hope that celebrities will respond to a tweet that is a response to a tweet.

  12. Awww, now I'm nostalgic, we used to do family board games all the time. Then we stopped. :(

    I just asked Chelsea why we she thought we stopped and she said we grew out of it.

    'WE' grew out of it...

  13. RG: Well, yeah, of course, it's "we."
    Board games can be tough, especially with kids. It's difficult to make there be time when school/work/whatever wants all the time.