- I am openly happy to see them go back to school at the end of the holidays. I liken the anticipation to that I felt in the run-up to Christmas when I was a child. I am positively jubilant and am completely unable to empathise with those who bang on about how much they are dreading the end of the holidays and how they are going to miss their children hugely blah, blah blah. To my mind they are one of two things: liars or delusional.
- I have manufactured an incurable and deadly allergy to glue and paint to prevent any attempts at “messy play” in my house. Anyway, isn’t that what schools are for? But painting and sticking is fun isn’t it? No, it’s not and frankly depriving my children of this extra dimension to their childhood is not going to keep me awake at night.
- I don’t iron any of my children’s clothes – I fold. I fold very well indeed. Folding is a much under-rated skill which I have perfected over many years of iron-shirking. I don’t like ironing and spending hours sweating over an ironing board is pointless if the person you’re ironing for a) doesn’t notice your effort b)couldn’t care less whether their clothing is creased c)has spilled something down the front of ironed clothing within 2 minutes of dressing. As for ironing underwear…come on, please – surely your time can be used more productively?
- I don’t do nametapes. Well, actually strictly speaking that is not true. At the start of my mothering “career”, I painstakingly sewed on scores of nametapes – pricking my finger on the needle countless times, accidentally sewing the item to my trousers on more than one occasion and wishing constantly that my children had shorter names and that I had married someone whose surname was one syllable of two letters. I gave up sewing on nametapes years ago and moved on to “iron on” nametapes: I refer you to the point I made above – I don’t iron. So now, I employ a much easier method – permanent marker. Not the neatest, I’ll grant you, but marvellously quick and most effective.
- I have started buying mashed potato rather than making it. This slippery slope into culinary laziness started innocuously with buying ready-made fishcakes and chicken nuggets and now has insidiously spread to buying mashed potato and even, on occasion, ready-to-microwave vegetables. I am not proud of this and I can almost hear the gasps of horror from the more wholesome amongst you. The bottom line is this – I hate peeling potatoes and my mash is always lumpy and either too sloppy or too stodgy. Life is too short to mash especially when someone else can do it much better than you at a reasonable price.
- I would often secretly prefer a glass of wine and a flick through Facebook than reading a bedtime story to my children. I don’t believe I am alone in this but perhaps alone in admitting to it. I know reading to children is vital and I do sometimes enjoy it but frankly there are some days when I am ready to lamp Peppa Pig and the rest of her porcine family. I do find a few medicinal sips of wine before reading “Peppa Pig” does help with these irrationally aggressive thoughts and stops the urge to jump up and down in muddy puddles until Peppa et al are completely soaked and begging you to stop.
- I don’t like watching kids’ films or cartoons. So as not to be mean-spirited, I do, on occasion, sit down with the children to watch a film. Most recently, the Minions movie – all I can say is that the parts which I did not sleep or text through were mind-numbingly terrible and I simply can’t understand why my children found it so hilarious and then compounded my misery by shouting “King Bob” endlessly for days afterwards. Watching the Minions movie was two hours of my life that I can never get back.
- I don’t let them win games. Well, I do sometimes but often my competitiveness gets the better of me. Does it matter if I win “Ludo”? Somehow it does seem to. I love Scrabble and there is no way that I am going to let my children win even if it is Junior Scrabble. Pathetic I know. The only game which I couldn’t give a toss about is Snakes and Ladders which is without doubt the most painful, excruciatingly dull game ever invented and when forced to play, I wish fervently that my opponent gets to 100 without encountering any snakes but landing on every ladder opportunity just to stop the monotony.
- I get shouty in supermarkets. Everyone else’s children seem to be behaving absolutely fine. Mine, on the other hand,turn into demented lunatics playing their own version of “Supermarket Sweep” at the expense of any old ladies or food products which are in their way. I get shouty; they behave even worse; I threaten something I can’t possibly carry out – eg no television ever ever ever again; they ignore me.
- I wouldn’t give them my last Rolo. Actually this is not strictly true – I would give them my last Rolo as I don’t like Rolos much but I certainly would not give them my last fizzy cola bottle. No way. I know that I bang on about sharing at least 20 times a day to the children, but sometimes I don’t want to share. The last fizzy cola bottle is one of those occasions. Anyway, sweets are bad for their teeth, right?
I think it was Miss Scarlet in the dining room with the dagger. Sound familiar? Cluedo, of course. It’s school holidays again (claps hands with glee) and in a fit of good mothering I have been teaching my boys to play Cluedo.
They have adapted well to the novel concept of a board game (heavy sarcasm) – no buttons to press, no electronic scoring, no “sick” graphics. But Cluedo 2013 is very different to Cluedo c1979. The principles are the same – amazingly “Health & Safety” has not outlawed the basic tenet of someone getting murdered in a gruesome manner in favour of someone being slightly hurt which wasn’t their fault at all of course.
The board has changed – I swear the corridors and hallways between rooms are half the length/size – presumably not to appear too overwhelming for the exercise-shy younger generation of today. We no longer have Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard et al – much less gender specific nowadays – Plum, White, Scarlet etc. The weapons are the same – although dagger seems a little outdated – perhaps “pistol” and “dagger” are used intentionally so as not to be seen to be promoting guns and knives. Of course, the rope is no longer a real little piece of rope, it is a plastic version – almost certainly my old friends “Health & Safety” at work again although what a small child could possible do with one inch of string is beyond me.
Perhaps the biggest reflection of the changing times is in the rooms. Gone is the Billiards Room, in is the Games Room sporting giant TV screen (showing football of course) and among other things somewhat intriguingly a wine bottle lying abandoned on the floor (an interrupted game of “spin the bottle” perhaps?). Gone is the Ballroom (no surprises there, it seemed rather outdated to the average Joe in 1979 too), in is the double Garage and Courtyard complete with faux Greek pillars and gargoyles. Most fascinating of all are the details: in the kitchen, the pre-requisite of a modern kitchen, the island; in the study, the computer with wireless keyboard; in the living room, the corner leather sofa and floor-standing giant sound system speakers and my favourite, in the bathroom, a corner jacuzzi bath and “his” and”hers” side-by-side basins. All very 21st century.
Actually, thank goodness for the details because they gave me something to focus on throughout the somewhat excruciating experience of teaching the boys to play the game. Of course, I have won every game despite my best efforts to lose. It has not proved easy to lose: partly because one son seems totally incapable of not showing me his hand (a rather crucial element in this particular game) and the other son has shown thus far absolutely no understanding of the technique required in order to bluff your opponents; partly, and I am not proud to admit this, I have won every game because I want to win – I know, pathetic to be competitive against your own children.
On a serious note, I am actually very pleased that the boys are enjoying playing a board game. After all so much of my own childhood was taken up with endless rounds of Boggle, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Scrabble and the interminably boring Snakes & Ladders (which I will only now play under extreme duress or with a pre-determined conclusion time). Most gratifyingly, one son actually wants to play Cluedo in preference to watching the drivel that seems to be permanently pouring from the TV screen – in fact, he chose it over The Simpsons – Mother :1, Bart: 0.
Despite my gentle ribbing, I know that the 2013 Cluedo board is much more attractive to my boys than the one of my childhood would be – reassuringly familiar in its details – and that probably goes in part towards their desire to play. Even though by playing the game they are parted temporarily from their beloved screens, the screens are still subliminally playing their part accessorising various rooms in the Cluedo mansion.
Not all changes to board games are a success. Take the version of Monopoly that I saw this afternoon at a friend’s house. All looked pretty familiar but something was missing – the money: no orange £100s, no pink £500s…all replaced by a single “debit card” and a debit card machine. Wrong, very wrong.
If I was to be all worthy about it, I could bang on about how this cashless version teaches children nothing about value, nothing about counting out money, nothing about actually physically handing over money. Of course this is all true but for me a cashless version is an utterly pointless version. How satisfying was it to demand £1000s in rent for your “hotel complex” on “Mayfair” and then watch your siblings/friends hand over a fistful of hard cash? How gratifying to charge an extortionate amount to your already financially troubled opponent for your “Get Out of Jail Free” card? How much did you enjoy seeing your mountain of cash building up on your side of the board whilst your opponent fell on hard times with a measly £500 to his name? Perhaps I am sounding like a rather unpleasant “loadsamoney” relic from the ’80s but come on, that’s what the fun was, wasn’t it? Where’s the fun in a debit card, tell me that?