Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a geek. I’ve seen all the Star Trek: TNG episodes about a dozen times… My mouth falls ajar when someone tells me they’ve never seen Star Wars… I read fantasy novels almost exclusively… and yes, I have played some Dungeons & Dragons.
Just wanted to get that out there.
So, I introduced my kids to HeroQuest yesterday. Do you people remember this game?? Oh my. It was, hands down, the most memorable board game of my young life. And I played a lot of board games.
The adventure, the imagination, the plastic figures… Pure perfection. I used to sit and play this game with my cousin for hours. He would make up quests and give funny names to monsters. We’d laugh, we’d make up new rules, he’d try to kill my heroes. It was amazing.
Seriously, even if you can’t stand fantasy stuff, you would like this game. My wife liked this game! It’s that good.
This guy knows what I’m talking about.
So you can imagine my mix of excitement and trepidation when I told my nine year-old daughter and my six year-old son that we were going to play. Little did they know the vast expectations being thrust upon them as they sat, open-mouthed, while I explained that they would play the part of a Barbarian, Wizard and others, out to slay orcs, mummies, and goblins. Little did they realize the disappointment they would cause their father if they balked at the idea.
But they had nothing else to do, so they grudgingly agreed.
Anyone with a six year-old knows that time was not my friend… so I spent about 20 seconds refreshing myself on the rules. Then I set the board on the table, plunked their plastic heroes in the first room, skipped over the wordy introductory story, and told them they had to find and kill a gargoyle.
Well my God… Would you believe they got right into it? They were working as a team; strategizing. My daughter was saving healing spells to help my son. My son was putting himself in harm’s way to save my daughter. They were excited! They were bouncing off the couch to see what was in each new room, and cheering each time they took out a monster. They loved it. LOVED IT.
At one point my daughter said to me: “Daddy… this game sounded really boring when you were explaining it, but now I really like it.”
We played for an hour and a half! What?! That’s like a year for a six year-old! The only thing that stopped us was bedtime, and they begged me to keep playing.
And the best part? The very next morning, my daughter woke me up at 6:30 to ask if we can play some more.
BOOM! Child converted.
A huge wave of nostalgia and joy flooded over me in that moment. Isn’t it funny what pride we take in turning our kids into miniature versions of ourselves? I’m not ashamed of it. We all know geeky people are just a bit more interesting and open-minded than the rest of the world. Thirty years from now I may be sitting across the dinner table from my kids and their perfectly matched, slightly geeky spouses, thinking that this moment is what set them on the right path.
Oops! There I go slipping into fantasy again.
My kids did make me proud last night, though. Not just for embracing something of mine, but for doing it so fully, and doing it even though they had some initial doubts, and then owning it and making it something personal to them. They were creative, excited, cooperative, interrogative, patient… Today it was HeroQuest. Maybe tomorrow it’ll be life.
Sappy? Hell, yes. But I get a pass. They’re my kids.