Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is This Just our Family Rule or an Everywhere Rule?

Ok, be honest, how many of you have at one time or another adapted the rules of a game so your young son/daughter would be able to master it a little bit better? Or maybe you didn't change them so much as not understand them the same way your neighbors might have?

Let me give you some example, let's take Mancala - one of my daughter's favorite games. The directions in our set says that if the last marble the player puts down during his/her turn lands in his/her own Mancala, than that player gets to go again. A few weeks ago Allie was playing Mancala at her friend's house and when the friend's last piece went in the Mancala, Allie just stared at her and the friend stared back at Allie. The friend asked Allie why she was staring at her and not going and Allie said because it was her (the friend's) turn again. The friend didn't understand and so Allie didn't really understand why the friend didn't understand, but Allie said "you know, because your last piece landed there, you get to go again". The friend said that isn't the way she plays and that is not the rules. So, both girls look at their respective mothers and I say to the friend "Honey, that is what the directions say." And my friend says "We never had directions because our game was a hand-me-down and we have never played that way." So, I say that when we are in our friend's home we will play the way they play.

Another example - the game Trouble. Now, from the beginning, I never wanted to modify these rules for Allie because I figured it would do more harm than good - so she always knew that she couldn't "get out" until she got a 1 or 6. And its probably for this reason that she never has liked Trouble too much - she thinks its "boring" just waiting for a 1 or 6 - and trust me, you'll agree, if you have played this game enough there are times where you can punch and punch that pop-o-matic thing (yes, its called a pop-o-matic - I promise I didn't make it up!) and it seems to never give you a 1 or 6. In any event, when she was like 3.5 or 4, one of her friends came over whose mother always altered the Trouble rules in their home. She said that they never played where you had to wait for the 1 or 6 - they can just get out at any number. Now this little friend is brilliant and understands and "gets" things (he is in the gifted program at our school at the age of 6) and his mother always told him that while they play her version in the house, the "real" version of the game is where you have to wait for the 1 or 6.

So, Allie and her little friend were attempting to play Trouble a few years ago and her friend was getting very frustrated after he "popped" twice and he didn't get a 1 or 6. So on his third turn, he said he was going to play his mommy's way or he wasn't playing at all because this way was "boring". Allie said he wasn't playing the right way and you have to play by the rules. He told Allie that he didn't want to play by her rules, he wanted to play by his mother's rules. I tried to explain to him it wasn't Allie's rules, but the rules of the game - but he wasn't interested and he kinda thought that every family makes up their own rules just like his mother did (can you blame him for thinking that?) and he wanted to play her way. Needless to say we moved on to a different activity.

I'm sure I could go on and on with examples - sometimes mine gets frustrated because she knows how to play a game a "different" way or sometimes its the friend getting frustrated. But it all boils down to the same thing - sometimes each family has their own rules for certain games and while its not necessarily a "bad" thing, it can make it a bit challenging at times because as adults we know which way is the "right" way; but, ultimately the kids end up thinking the way their family plays it is the "right" way - despite what Mommy & Daddy might say the real rules are.

So, on Sunday Allie was telling her Daddy how much she loved spelling and her spelling tests. She told him that she has only missed one word so far and it was "like" - she told him that she first spelled it "lik" because the "e" was silent. . .but that know she knows its "like". Then she told him that now she knows how to spelling "liking" and as any good Daddy does, he said "how"? And Allie said "l-i-k-e-i-n-g". So, Rich says close, but there is no "e" at the end and then he spelled it for her. As any 6 year old would be, she was rather confused and expressed this to her Daddy. So, he said he knew it was hard and some words just are really hard to spell and that it is the rule with most "ike" words that you take away the "e" when you add the "ing" to it i.e., bike/biking; hike/hiking; like/liking, etc).

So, Allie ponders for a moment and asks him if this was a "family rule". . ..

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AudreyO said...

Hi, I'm Audrey. I found you through the Blog Trip Carnival. Cute post. My kids have always played most games by the rules. We never bent the rules. What's funny, my kids never cared for Trouble either. Have you ever played Shanghai? There are so darn many ways to play. My daughter has learned to ask about the rules BEFORE playing a game of Shanghai.

Anonymous said...

We have this game called The Golden Apple. It's a European brand game but has instructions in English. At just under 4 I debated on whether to implement all of the rules so the first few times we didn't just to get them to play. I've now started to add some of the - loose your turn if you don't roll the right color type stuff.

To some extent I think it depends on how complex the game is, the age of your children, and what is important to you as the parent. We try to stick as close to the rules as possible, but we do bend a little too.

Jenni said...

I have been known to bend the rules when we need to to make everyone feel successful!

Annie said...

GUILTY! Usually so the game doesn't take HOURS. Done it. Lots.