There are many times during the course of parenting that you find yourself somewhere with a kid, waiting for something to happen. You might be waiting for the doctor to call you back for an appointment, waiting for your food to arrive in the restaurant or waiting for the plane to land. You need something to do, so you turn over the restaurant’s paper menu or you pull an old receipt out of your wallet and you play a little game to pass the time.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, though, playing the same games over and over until they’re almost as boring as waiting with nothing to do. I asked our Offspring Facebook Group to tell me their favorites so I could switch it up a little. And they didn’t disappoint.
This might be too obvious, but it’s our personal go-to, so I am compelled to include it. I have to assume you all know how to play this, but you might not realize that you can play against a computer, if you ever find yourself alone in a waiting room and sick of social media. The “impossible” level really is frustrating.
(As an aside, did anyone else refer to a tie game of tic-tac-toe as a “cat’s game”? I never thought of it as strange until I started playing it with my son a few years ago. The first time we tied, I drew a big “C” and was like, “Ah, cat’s game!” and he was like, “whaaaaa?” I have been doubting myself that this is a real thing ever since, but apparently it is, although no one can really agree on where it comes from.)
Hangman is the classic game in which kids can practice their spelling and vocabulary—in a Wheel of Fortune-style manner. With the violent twist that if you guess the letters incorrectly too many times, a stick figure hangs to his death.
For a less violent version, we have recommended that instead of hanging a person, you build a snowman, but to each their own.
The dot game
I have apparently been missing out on a lot of fun all my life by never having played the dot game, according to basically every parent in our Facebook group.
Since I’ve never played it, I’ll let group member Kristen explain: “You draw dots in rows and each person takes a turn connecting one line segment of a square at a time. The goal is to be the first person to complete a square and then put your initials into it for a point.”
For a fun twist, Lily says, “I loved playing this game with my dad when I was kid. We played that if you finished the square, you also got to make another line. Eventually there would come a point where the board was so filled with lines that finishing a square would produce a chain reaction of squares which was absolutely thrilling as a kid.”
Trace your hand
You probably think I’m going to suggest you now turn it into a turkey, which we’ve all done and would be a timely thing to do. And that’s fine, totally do that if you want. But if you prefer a fun twist on this, you could do like group member Julia does: “We trace hands and then draw jewelry and funky nail polish, etc.”
I am so tempted to do this right now at my desk, by myself, for the hell of it, but I will push through and keep working instead.
There are a lot of possible variations on this, but the general idea, one group member says, is to fold a piece of paper in thirds and draw a creature/monster together. Someone draws the head, folds over what they drew and passes it to the next person with only the lines of the neck showing. The second person draws the torso, folds and passes, and the next person draws the legs. The final product is sure to be a sight to behold.
(Some folks also call this “Exquisite Corpse,” which is an amazing name but really refers to the racier version created by Surrealists in the 1930s.)
If you’ve got other favorites I’m missing here, add them in the comments so we can all add a little variety to our pencil-and-paper repertoire.