ccording to statistics gathered from some people, somewhere, most 21st-century children never play cards with their parents. This is presumably the result of the advent and proliferation of hand-held entertainment devices operated by bionic thumbs. Our thumbs prevent us from actually having to interact with our children even if (or especially if) stuck in together on a rainy bank holiday. Adults and parents are both too busy thumbing it.
This is a very sad thing, for surely the whole purpose of a family is to find solace and amusement at its core, particularly when the collective experience is so crap that the only thing to do is to play Rummy.
I say this based on a considerable number of rainy holidays spent in cottages, tents and at my Scottish grandparents. When the weather and the world conspire against a traveling family, its members should be able to find comfort in a hand of cards, and it strikes me as a great shame that a whole generation will grow up never getting a good fug up in a tent over a rubber of Whist while listening to the pitter-patter of rain on the canvas.
And while I know the fabric of family life is sometimes difficult and tortuous, these rare moments are, to me, what make it the whole of it worthwhile. I speak from experience, both as a child and as a parent. Our household teems with children, which makes it prone to perceived injustices, tantrums, rages and conflicts. All families experience this. We simply have to multiply it by five. This makes competitive games of any extremely difficult to negotiate. Physical evidence includes a number misshapen badminton rackets (victims of repeated beatings) and a Monopoly board that’s literally been torn in half.
Mayhem aside, our deck of cards and box of betting chips remain intact. Cards, we know, are the one thing we can actually play.
It got so hot during the summer that we had no choice but to escape to a mountain chalet for a weekend. And the chalet had no Internet access.
To survive, we played cards for entertainment, a godsend since everyone had been on everyone else’s nerves in our very hot home. Children and teens have different needs that tend to clash at home. But that changed on the mountain, however briefly. Since cyberspace was unavailable, we had no choice but to be together and escape into each other. We had to get on so we did. We couldn’t do it forever, of course, but it was a vital little revival that should tide us over for the next six months — until snow and power cuts force us into another family escape.
And I’ll keep the cards at the ready.