Together Time: Monopoly and Ice Cream for Dinner

By ELLEN KONWISER | Aug 07, 2019
Photo by: Gail Travers

There’s nothing like a shore house full of people. When our three children, their spouses and our four grandchildren arrived for the week of July 4, we totaled 12. Our house was filled to capacity! Because the beds sleep only eight, one of the kids brought an air mattress, one a sleeping bag and two claimed chaise lounges on our screened-in porch.

On their fifth day, as the outdoor temperatures began to rise into the 90s with the humidity in that range as well, it seemed too hot for usual outdoor activities.

“Let’s go inside where it’s air conditioned. We can play games, watch Women’s World Cup Soccer and not have to carry all the stuff to the beach,” suggested Ben, our youngest grandson.

We all seem to need a respite from the long days of being constantly on the move. “AC sounds pretty good,” we all agreed. “We’ll call it the First Annual In-the-House Day.”

“Soccer game’s this afternoon. I think the pre-game shows start at noon, so let’s play Monopoly,” offered 14-year-old Sam. All four kids are on soccer teams.

The kids began to set up our ancient Monopoly game, which was bought at a garage sale more than 30 years ago. Even then it showed signs of wear. Now the flaps on the dried-out cardboard box had torn completely off and were held on with duct tape. The Chance cards were faded from orange to almost white and the money had curled at the edges. No one seemed to care that the board’s centerfold had ripped in two and been taped with clear tape on the front. Our tried-and-true game that had been used by three generations of our family, it had to be handled gently.

Some years after I purchased this game, I found a newer one at a house sale – not brand new, but in much better shape than the old one. I’m not sure why, but the kids always gravitate to the torn and worn game. The newer one merely serves as back-up in case a deed card is missing or extra money is needed. Who knows? These games might follow our grandkids to parenthood. Their children might enjoy them.

I am well aware of the much newer version that features an electronic card reader and other technology. Although it’s very modern, I think it destroys the innate educational factor of Monopoly. Kids should know how to count money and physically handle it. They should actually see stacks of bills. It’s just not the same with a “credit card” you swipe. This feeling is due to my age and the teacher in me.

“Choose which man you want,” suggested Sam.

Katy, our 12-year-old granddaughter, challenged why they were called men. “It doesn’t seem fair,” she complained. “They’re not men or women. We should call them movers.”

“Fine,” the three boys mumbled. “Choose your movers,” Jon said sarcastically.

Our movers are metal. We have a hat, a car, a dog, a wheelbarrow, a horse, an iron, a boot and a thimble. Every year someone questioned, “What’s a thimble used for?”

“I’ll be banker!” Ben called out. This was followed by a chorus of protests citing mistakes he’d made last time.

“You’re only 11. You need to learn more math.”

“You don’t keep the money neat and it gets all mixed up.”

“Jon’s oldest, he should be banker.”

Jon quickly declined. “I hate math. I’m on vacation so I don’t have to think! Sam’s next oldest and he’s good at math.”

After Sam accepted, the others chose jobs: Ben took care of the houses and hotels because “I like to build things.” Katy was in charge of the deeds because she liked to sort them by color.

With a large bag of pretzels and glasses of lemonade for sustenance, the players were set for a while. The longest Monopoly game in our house had lasted 4½ hours! Finally, with much protest, it had been put on hold until the next day because the adults insisted the kids get to bed.

Our two daughters and future daughter-in-law (we hope) grabbed their books, claiming the lounges on the porch. Our family has always looked forward to shore time as catch-up-on-reading time.

The four men settled on the couches while our son grabbed the remote. He turned on TV and scrolled down to his favorite movie. “Let’s watch this until the pre-game show.” TV during the day is a treat at our house. In general, it’s outlawed on the basis we should use the time to be outdoors, taking advantage of nice weather, and to talk to each other.

Seeing everyone looking so content lifted my spirits. I feel personally responsible for guests even if they’re all family. Although we’re very different personalities, we get along just fine. That said, I started imagining a whole day of hot, sweaty people stuck in the house. If short tempers were to surface, this might be the day.

Hoping to finish my book, I claimed the porch rocker. Minutes later, our older daughter called, “Hey, Mom, how about Scrabble? The loser has to prepare, serve and clean up for the next meal.” I accepted.

All in all, the day was going very well with everyone occupied, but after some time I sensed we were all becoming bored.

I stood up, slid open the glass door to the deck and realized it had cooled down a bit. I suggested we think about dinner.

“Skipper Dipper! Ice cream for dinner,” cajoled the kids.

“Puleeze! It’s a healthy dinner; it’s made with milk.”

“It has fruit if you get strawberry or cherry vanilla.”

“You can get butter pecan or pistachio. Nuts are good for you.”

“And there’s beans. Chocolate comes from cacao beans.”

It was the same old argument our kids had used. Our thinking is that once a year ice cream for dinner can’t hurt. “Let’s go now so we avoid the long line.”

It seems just like yesterday that our children were begging us for ice cream. Forty-plus years later, their kids use the same tactics. Where does the time go?

It was a hectic week, noisy, busy, lots of confusion – some might call it chaos. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

I’m thankful we’re all here and all healthy. I’m thankful for the privilege of owning a shore house and being able to share it. I’m thankful we’re already making plans for next year.

“Grandma, I love it here. Can I come back next weekend and bring three friends?” John said. “We’re 15 and old enough to take care of ourselves so you won’t have to babysit us.”

After checking my daughter’s reaction, with a smile, I nod my head. “Of course. Anytime.” Then I start to think about how much food four 15-year-old boys will consume. I should probably start shopping now!

Ellen Konwiser lives in Mount Arlington, N.J., and Brighton Beach.


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