I am not a grinch. I’m really not.
But after about 4 to 5 years of playing Chutes and Ladders with my children, I am ready to either:
a. put a sharp stick in my eye
b. begin drinking heavily at a very early hour on a daily basis or
c. start a Twitter fight with Milton Bradley.
Chutes and Ladders is a great concept – in theory. So many learning opportunities: Count to 100! Turntaking! P erseverence!
But it honestly turns children into confused, angry jackholes. Here is why.
1.There is no START. Just a square with the #1 on it. Every time we play, my kids fight over whether to start on 1, or start off the board and 1 is their first space. Every.single.time. I know that 1 is not Start because it has a ladder on it, but they don’t know that:
2. Nonintuitive counting. What marketing moron at Milton Bradley came up with “let’s make the board have switchbacks so as to force a preschooler or early elementary schooler to count from right to left every other row instead of left to right?”
Every time we play, I have to remind Little CEO, who is one whipsmart 5 year old, to move her pawn in the OTHER direction. “Follow the way the numbers go up, honey”, I say as I mutter curse words in 7 different languages under my breath.
3. Tricking kids. Someone decided to put little arrows on the end numbers of each row, to trick kids into thinking that they actually get to SLIDE up from that space to the next numbered space like it’s Sorry Sliders.” Only it’s not! They don’t get to slide up. Some marketing exec was saying, “That’ll REALLY make those little ones cry! MUAHAHAHAHA!”
4. The chutes prolonging the game. I have played this game with my children on several occasions where I secretly delight that one kid has quickly moved up several ladders and stands to put an end to my torture within 10 minutes or less. Without fail, that same child hits the big old giant chute that slides him or her back down to position 24 on the board where the rest of us losers are languishing because we keep hitting the smaller chutes. What should be a 10 minute game turns into a 45 minute, agonizing form of mommy torture. Is this game a metaphor for life?
5. The spinners. Spinners are bad juju. They lead to debates over what constitutes a valid spin. At one time, I was debating issues of constitutional law; now, I debate whether the spinner must spin around several times before it “counts.” Do you see my brain cells escaping my brain by the million?
Anyway, my lovely children broke our Chutes and Ladders spinner the first time we played the game 3 or 4 years ago. Since Little CEO began wailing like a dying cow the minute the spinner broke, I sent my husband on an emergency MacGyver mission to come up with a spinner solution. This is what he devised, using an extra cabinet knob we had laying around:
Only problem is that the knob is loosely secured to the spinner board, so it falls into the path of the spinner most of the time. The spinner doesn’t give you a good spin, unless one of the kiddos remembers to gently lift up on the knob with one hand, while flicking the spinner with the other.
Well guess what? The kiddos DON’T remember to do it. Or they rest their hand on the spinner board, so now IT is in the way of the spinner. So when I’m not saying “honey, go the OTHER way on the board,” or “I’m sorry you landed on a chute, don’t give up” or “For the love of God and everything pure, I HATE THIS FREAKING GAME”, I have to brightly say “Okay, don’t forget to lift up on the knob before you spin.” There go those brain cells again.
So in closing, I believe that it is time for Chutes and Ladders to make a very mysterious and unplanned disappearance from my home. It will save my kids frustration, and me, several million brain cells.
What board game do you loathe the most? Part II of this series may have me discussing the drawbacks of Bingo.