Number 1. Hungry, Hungry Hippos
WARNING: This game brings out the competitive spirit in even the most mild-mannered child.
As your child attempts to force colorful plastic hippos to eat tiny white balls using chubby, uncoordinated fingers, the mental stimulation proves too much to bear. Invariably, she loses focus. She begins slamming the poor hippos until one of the white miniature balls flies across the room and gets lost. The child, so past the point of reason (think sugar high times a billion), begins shrieking–the sort of wail that leads the neighbors to call the authorities. The innocent game you once played in your youth is now tarnished and broken while one of the hippos is stuck in the open-mouth position as if waiting for the lost ball to return. Sometimes in the dead of night you swear you can hear him screaming….
Number 2. Jenga
WARNING: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was Jenga. At least not when there are children around.
This is a game of building and stacking. Kids love to build, but they also love to knock things down, which defeats the purpose of the game. Jenga requires delicate placement of wooden pieces and, as you already know, young kids aren’t delicate. When they can’t place the pieces, one of two things will happen: they will either ask you to help or they will become frustrated. Either way, any progress made by other players will be knocked to shit. The game will wind up shattered on the floor. There will be no hopes of rebuilding. Jenga will fall, just as Rome did.
Number 3. Twister
WARNING: Young children do not have great control over their bodies. Need proof? Watch them dance.
This is one you may remember with fondness from your own childhood. Side note: your parents didn’t want to play Twister with you either. Sure, your kids know their colors, but at this young age, they have a hard time with left and right. This is only one of the many problems you’ll encounter when playing this game. As your child does his or her best to place his left hand on blue, he may fall and you may or may not be in his way. Tiny fists hurt and nails are sharp–sure, you cut them last week, but they grow faster than weeds. And if you play this with more than one child, get ready for a pain-filled monkey pile. Pray there are no emergency room visits. If there are, bring the spinner. It will keep them busy. Kids love the spinner.
Number 4. Memory
WARNING: The assholes who make this game seem to get off on creating very similar and detailed cards.
What comes to mind when you think of young children? Fantastic memory and attention to detail? Probably not, and that is what this age-old game requires. The rules are simple enough: lay all five hundred cards face down. No, there probably aren’t that many, but while you’re playing, it seems like there are. This games takes hours because both set-up and play are lengthy, so make sure you have plenty of time. If you can’t remember where Dora with the pink ballerina outfit is vs. Dora with the pink cowgirl suit, how can you expect your child to? A simple trick: once you have matches at the end of a game, keep them that way. And the next time you are forced to play, put them down just as they are. It’s not cheating; it’s a sanity-saving method employed by parents in the know.
In the event that you ignore this sage advice and actively engage in game play, here are four rules you must ALWAYS follow. To deviate from them is to cause seismic shifts in the space time continuum.
1. Never look children directly in the eye while playing. If you do, they will think you are challenging them. They don’t like this. It could cause violent outbursts or tearful breakdowns, which is why there is rule number 2.
2. Never let kids play at any family gathering. Because while your family believes your little one is an angel, break out the board games and they will see a whole different side to your child. They may be afraid, offended, or both and may never return.
3. Place children in a quiet room to calm them after the game. Call this the decompression period. Make sure there are no sharp or delicate objects. They will hurt themselves or break something in the fits of rage children often have during the period between intense over-stimulation and the time where they completely crash.
4. Never place your fingers on the board. To do so could cause injury. Your fingers may not break, but they will be red and sore after being hit with marbles, smashed with wooden pieces or fallen on by plump little kid legs as they try to put a left foot on blue while their right foot is on green. Little kids aren’t good at balance.
Sure, board games can be fun, but when you have young children, often they just… aren’t. Someday your children will grow up, but until then push these dangerous board games to the back of a closet or hide them in the basement. Most importantly? Pray the kids never find them.