When Sorry Doesn’t Cut It (and other board game life lessons)


It will be a big milestone for us, the day when we can all sit down together and play a game of Sorry and not have one of us either burst into tears or storm out of the room in a huff.

We stocked up on lots of board games for Christmas this year. My husband and I decided it would be an investment in family time. It is. We are having lots of family time. Most of that time is spent in lectures entitled, “Hey, Easy Come, Easy Go, Sport,” or “You Win Some, You Loose Some, Get Over It,” or “Life Turns on a Dime, Just Wait a Few More Turns and You’ll be Surprised What Happens Next.”

There are so many life lessons you can learn from the comfort of your own kitchen table. One of my favorite memories from this past week was teaching my five year old how to play Connect Four after getting pummeled round after round by his eight year, more experienced older sister.

“Rule Number One: You’ve got to have multiple ways of connecting four, son. As soon as she blocks one way, don’t sweat it, ’cause you’ve got one or two more.”

“Rule Number Two: Don’t just think about how you’re going to connect four, think about how you’re going to stop her from connecting four.”

“Rule Number Three: Don’t just react out of anger and frustration. Think before you make your next move! Patience…patience…”

My daughter was not happy to have her little brother under my tutelage, as he quickly battled back to tie up the score. If only she had taken the sage advice I was dispensing loudly enough for all parties to hear instead being miffed by it. Lesson number four: Keep your friends close…your opponents closer. Never know what you might learn.

This week we’ve enjoyed playing the board game classics like Life, Scrabble and Trouble. But that Sorry game….”The Game of Sweet Revenge.” Boy, they weren’t kidding. Sorry doesn’t cut it. I call it “The Emotion Bowl.”

The whole time we’re playing the game I feel like I’m in some sort of melodrama. I turn to my left and find one of my offspring rubbing their hands together with a maniacal glint in their eye and hissing, “He he he…” I turn to my right and someone is bellowing, “Nooooooooo!!!!!” with their fists raised high in the air as if there were a camera dangling from a crane above them ready to zoom out.

Then there’s the poker faced yankee unmoved by the helpless southern belle shedding crocodile tears into her hankie, “Please sir, if you move my piece, whatever shall I do?” And then there’s the baby: The comic relief.

But it’s that singsongy, minor chord “Sorry!!” that sends my little ones into hysterics, just inches aways from pulling a Bobby Brady and sending the whole board flying. Suddenly the game is stupid. Unfair! Why do we even play this dumb game?!

Then I realized, the game of sweet revenge only evokes this level of theatrics when we play it with each other. The kids played this game the other day with some neighborhood friends and all was well. No tears, no arguing, just good, clean, friendly fun..

Why is it when big brother taunts, “Sorry!” it’s soul-crushing? But when the kid down the street says it, no biggie. Huh. Go Figure.

Oh ya. It must be Rule Number Five. They keep their friends close…their siblings closer.


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