George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” If he’s right, I’m gonna live forever! 

Starting with pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo, I have been playing games with my grandchildren for the past nine years and don’t see that ending any time soon.  Who doesn’t love hearing an infant’s delightful little giggles when you “peek” with them!  Cuddling a grandchild on your lap for a round or two of pat-a-cake is fine way to spend some time together.

As much as I revel in cuddling un petit bebe, they certainly don’t stay little for long and quicker than grandma can figure out her iPhone, they become toddlers. As toddlers, unstructured free play presents little ones with endless opportunities to explore and interact with their world. I’ve spent many a morning and afternoon at the playground watching my little ones collect sticks, rocks and an occasional piece of trash into a treasured pile.  We played some simple hide and seek, rolled balls back and forth and had an occasional tea party.

Then even before the twins started kindergarten, we were playing board games like Chutes & Ladders, Candy Land and Count Your Chickens.  Isn’t it marvelous that an afternoon of fun is also teaching them to think strategically, follow rules and develop social skills?  

Playing board games is still high on our list of activities to do together. Currently in my traveling grandma bag I have a Michigan Rummy board, deck of cards and a whole lot of nickels.  I cannot begin to count the number of hands of Michigan Rummy we’ve played in hotel rooms, at Camp Grandma 2018, anywhere we get together.

I brought Michigan Rummy when we gathered for Mr. Smith’s 65th, but I also wanted to have some special games. I started by having a recent photo of him blown up into a poster so we could play Pin the Hat on Grandpa!  

When I couldn’t find quite the hats I wanted, I made my own.  Adapting patterns I found online (what did we ever do before the Internet???), I crafted a mighty fine beret, pirate hat and crown.  I used mounting putty to adhere the poster to the wall and to “pin” the hats on Grandpa.

Our other game was Grandpa Nick Bingo.  There are several online sites where you can create your own customized bingo cards for free! I entered a list of Grandpa Nick centric words and the program created some festive bingo sheets.  I used spray adhesive to mount these onto cardboard to give them a little more substance. Using my Michigan Rummy nickels as bingo chips, we played several rounds before the grand finale of “blackout” bingo.  All my grandchildren excel at yelling “Bingo!”

After pinning a hat on Grandpa or winning a round of bingo, the grandchildren were rewarded with some Grandpa Nick Greenbacks! Like accumulating “tickets” at Chuck E. Cheese, they accumulated these custom-made dollars. When the games were over, they took their Grandpa Nick Bucks to Grandpa to redeem a special prize just for them.

So, if George Bernard Shaw’s quote is true, my grandchildren are keeping me young.  One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting on my beloved Aunt Ruby’s lap while she and Uncle Ike played pinochle with my parents on Saturday nights.  She’d let me throw her cards for her and never seemed annoyed with me (although she may have been.)  Perhaps that’s where my love of playing games with family began, ensconced on the lap of the woman who taught me unconditional love.  I hope I leave my grandchildren with memories as treasured as mine.

C’est la vie.

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