How Night Terrors Forced My Family To Unplug

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You never forget the moment where you wake up to your child screaming. The bleary-eyed rushing to their room only to find them awake but not awake. The early night terrors Wyatt experienced were full of him:

  • Tracking objects, with his eyes, that were not there… but if you watched him, you’d think there was something.
  • Shivering, teeth chattering to the point you’d think that they might break.
  • Pure terror.

Night terrors make a parent feel helpless as it is hard to convince someone, who isn’t awake, that there is nothing trying to kill them.

Tabitha and I started to notice a pattern though. Looking at our bedtime routine, we were watching TV, specifically playing videogames, up until the point Wyatt went to bed. So we re-evaluated our evening routine and turned off the television. 

For me, being the dad who loves sharing gaming with his kid, this killed me. KILLED ME! The effort it takes to read a book aloud or play a boardgame is far more than turning on the TV and playing a game. Call this being a lazy dad at the time, I admit it now. But our evenings changed for the better. The night terrors, which seem to be caused by a combination of electronic stimuli and tiredness, slowly faded away. Over the years, with each book we read aloud, each boardgame we played, we slowly learned to interact more as a family in the evenings.

Today, I can’t say everything is perfect. The night terrors like to rear their heads on the occasion (but are more infrequent). We still watch TV shows before bed, but we have learned that certain TV shows don’t seem to trigger the night terrors as much as others (I think it has something to do with the amount of blinking lights). Our family reading time has segued into Wyatt having his own reading time at night.

My Little Scythe

Smart parenting often requires sacrifice. In our case, that has meant moving any gaming time away from bedtime (we’ve noticed that an hour buffer works). I’ve learned that I can still game with my son but that often it is good to shake things up with no screens. The battlefield of the Chess board, the trophies of My Little Scythe, all work together to make non-screen memories and keep the night terrors at bay.

Unwritten Rules: I Must See the Ending

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Our good friends recently bought us Qwirkle, a tile-based game that has the universal appeal of Rummikub. Qwirkle pits 2-4 players into matching colors and shapes for maximum points per turn.

Qwirkle comes with a cloth bag that serves two purposes:

  1. Serves as a place to store all of the tiles when done with the game.
  2. Acts as a draw pile/bag to pass around, as players must keep 6 tiles in their hands at all times.

For me, the bag of tiles also acts as a visual indicator to show me how much longer the game is going to take to play. One of my unwritten rules, with tabletop games, is that I have to be able to visually see/know that the game is going to end. Too many long games of RiskSettlers of Catan, and Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot have burned me out on 2+ hour games.

Knowing that the game is going to end gives me hope; Hope that I won’t be treated as a tabletop hostage.

 

A few games that embrace this rule:

  • King Domino
  • Carcassonne
  • Chicken Foot (a Dominos-like variation)
  • Cranium Whoonu

Congrats to Game Store Prophets for 5 Years!

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Wanted to take a moment and congratulate Mike Perna and the Game Store Prophets Crew for 5 years of podcasting excellence. I love the work that Mike does. Not just talking about the concept of a boardgame ministry but actually putting action behind those words. Congrats, Mike!

July 22, 2011 – the first episode of Game Store Prophets went live. We had no idea what we were starting. We were a couple of geeks who happened to have served in ministry positions who thought there’d be something in the idea of bringing those two sides of our lives together into one place. Five years after tackling the oliphant in the room, GSP is just part of the work that we do as part of the larger work of InnRoads Ministries. We’ve seen new hosts, had a number of wonderful guests, and connected with people across the world. – Read More Here

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Lazy Sunday

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Sunday afternoons always seem to drag on into infinity…

Lately, the weather has been rather warm for spring time in East Texas. The 80 degree days have started reminding me of our blazing hot/humid summers. All in all, it is far too early for weather like this.

Yesterday, in an attempt to stave off the cabin fever Sunday’s induce, my wife, son, and I piled into the family sedan and headed off to Target. Our mission: To spend some giftcards we had recently received.

Walking through the store, my wife and I looked at dinner plates, blenders, and solar powered lanterns–I love these things!–. Eventually we made our way to the boardgame aisle. It was then that my wife spotted this:

Now, I have found that boardgames can really be a huge hit or a miss. Usually, I won’t buy a new boardgame unless we have had a chance to test-drive it, per se. But, having giftcards to spend, we decided that perhaps it was time to Pass the Popcorn. Now, for those of you who haven’t played, Pass the Popcorn is a movie trivia game.

To play, one player reads out the top of the card (“1980 Comedy”), and then the other player asks a question depending on what tile they have selected (Tiles range from Quotes, Story, Cast, Characters, etc.). If you guess the movie title right, you win!

Long after the Target trip and soon after my son had been put to bed for the night, my wife and I tried the game out. We had a really good time!

Sometimes its nice to just turn off the TV and enjoy spending time with those around you.