War is not the answer

Summer has given way unceremoniously to fall, and Rowan has just as unceremoniously dumped Bakugan for Pokémon. Just like that, hundreds of dollars’ worth of highly breakable magnetized plastic balls that I never thought I would miss have been shoved aside for the cards, THE CARDS, WITH THEIR CRYPTIC INSTRUCTIONS AND TINY PRINT AND INCOMPREHENSIBLE RULES, NOT THAT ANYONE WOULD EVER DEIGN TO PLAY BY THE RULES ANYWAY BUT SIMPLY SEEMS TO PULL THEM OUT OF HIS … Oh, hi.

Sorry, didn’t mean to shout. It’s just that if Rowan makes me play Pokémon with him one more time my head might explode. Assuming it hasn’t already exploded, shot off, perhaps, in one of the ceaseless games of War that Isaac currently demands we play with him.

Yes, it seems that both children have developed new, tenacious, obsessions with what can only very generously be described as tedious card games. “Mom?” Rowan will whisper to me at 6:15 AM, his head popping up at my bedside: “Mama? Wanna play War?”

Well, of course I want to play War, you delirious child. Not.

Because, you know? There’s only so much War I can take. I like it for a certain amount of meditative togetherness, the fact that it does not require chasing, as an exercise in numeracy, for the fact that I can flip my cards while also reading the newspaper. But the thrill wears off after a while.

Rachel keeps making halfhearted objections to the name “War.” She’s been trying to get Isaac to call it something else — “Splat” is the preferred alternative — but no one in the house is actually pretending that it’s anything but War. And I, supportive as I am of non-violent language and pacifism, am just so beaten down by the constant refereeing of matches that I just can’t seem to get it up to (no pun intended) fight that particular battle. When we won’t play with them, they badger each other to play, striking complex I’ll-play-yours-if-you-play-mine-first-no-mine-first deals, upon which they almost immediately renege. And then they seek revenge for the reneging.

And, occasionally, they sit together and play and play and giggle and bicker and then giggle again, and then play some more, then run off to our bedroom to do front flips on our bed and play Isaac’s other new favourite game, which he calls “Shoot Rowan across the Bed into a Giant Earplug.” I don’t know what that means, either, but I can’t stop myself from giggling when he shouts it across the house. Just like I can’t help my curmudgeonly self from smiling at his genuine excitement when we both put down eights at the same time and “War” breaks out (the suspense! The drama!), or at his delight when he wins and chortles Oh ho ho! as he gathers up his bounty.