The Disney checkerboard is set out on the table as I begin to prepare for attempt number three with my awesome 5 year old boy. I look into his eyes, opened wide in anticipation, as he quietly waits for me to finish setting up the board. My own enthusiasm builds thinking of the game we’re about to play and the giggles we’re about to share.
His hand moves toward the board and he pushes the pieces to their adjacent squares. I put them back and tell him to be patient, that all the pieces have to be set up before we can start. He relents while I fix his pieces and gently remind him of the rules.
Let the game begin.
My insides seize as he starts pushing the little discs all over the board and moving my pieces as if they’re his own.
A little too quickly I become a whiny child frustrated with her friend for not playing by her rules. ‘That’s cheating Jack”. “No, you can only move the pieces this way, Jack”. “Jackson, you can’t take all of my pieces with your first move”. “See, you take the pieces and move them this way”. “Watch Jack”. And on and on. He continually gathers my pieces and exclaims “Ha-ha! I win!” and sulks when I show him a move jumping one of his pieces: ‘that’s not fair. This isn’t any fun”.
He doesn’t follow the rules and he certainly won’t take turns – the board is his playground and he is King of the Castle.
Finally my nerves can’t take the incessant neglect of the rules and his sudden loss of hearing any longer. I swish the pieces back in the box and slap the board closed exclaiming ‘I don’t want to play with someone who won’t listen or follow the rules”. It’s not my proudest maternal moment but, seriously, isn’t 5 old enough to take turns?
At least I know I’m not alone – when I googled ‘kids taking turns’ 11,200,000 results popped up. And because taking turns has been an important part of Lily’s speech therapy I feel like I’ve read most of them. I have tried many of the tricks and tips each have contained. I have praised their patience when they do wait and used everyday situations to reinforce the idea. Lily has known the signs for ‘your turn’ and ‘my turn’ for ages. We quickly learned that she understood and used the signs appropriately but she was not going to be easily forced into such a silly thing.
I have a great game called Who Knows Whose Nose that our pathologist recommended. Adorable game – simple and really helped motivate Lily to make animal noises but my patience only lasts so long as my children snark, shove, butt-in and ignore the rules.
I never find my children quite as adorable as I’m putting the game away as I did when we pulled it out.