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The Games We Play

I love playing games, always have done; I get this from my Mum.

Board games and card games have been a ‘go to’ for entertainment for as long as I can remember. As a youngster and being an Only, I was very good at amusing myself and, on the whole, was happy to do so; but nothing beat those childhood evenings spent playing games with Mum.

She had a veritable arsenal of games up her sleeve but, being a primary school teacher, Mother’s choice of game tended to veer more towards the educational; word and number games featured heavily and whilst maths was never a strong point as far as I was concerned (no change there), I could add up scores as quick as you like and had a vocabulary well beyond my years at a relatively early age.

And for Mother, being a parent in the 70’s meant there was none of this more modern attitude of going easy on your offspring – when she played, she played to win. One of my greatest childhood memories is of the day that I FINALLY beat her at Scrabble…

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There was a couple of decades hiatus in our game playing when I left home and moved away to The Big City; visits home were often short and sporadic and we never seemed to have the time or inclination to return to such pastimes. But when my Step Dad became ill in 2001 and I started to spend more time back in Norfolk, Mum and I dug out the old green box and the large red dictionary and rekindled our word game rivalry. In fact, the ‘Swaffham Scrabble Championships’ became quite a feature of our time spent together – we were pretty well-matched and our games were often fast and furious – but always fun.

This is no longer the case. As Mum’s age increased so did the time taken to complete a board. Her ability to find words (never previously an issue) and concentrate decreased and those exciting games became excruciating and drawn out as we crawled towards the inevitable result. After a while it became hard to see the funny side of me trouncing her yet again and, seeing the distress that this was starting to cause, I began letting her win (harder than you might think)… The last time we played, we gave up after 3 hrs – it was just too painful – for both of us. The old green box and the large red dictionary are now gathering dust on a shelf; I suspect that is where they will stay.

On one of her (many) recent stays in hospital, I took in a pack of cards to while away the hours and we rediscovered ‘Rummy’. This was a MUCH better option as the game is a little more down to chance and it was lovely to see Mum’s confidence improve as the playing field was levelled once again (without any help from me). However, this has been short-lived and I’m increasingly finding myself ignoring the ‘random’ sets that she is putting down and once again attempting ‘not to win’…

It’s a sad fact that playing games together, something that we used to enjoy so much, has ceased to be fun; Mum gets frustrated and upset and I get frustrated and irritated – not with her but at this hideous situation.

Perhaps we should try a little ‘Patience’…