What I learned playing cards with my kids

Each night after dinner my kids would retreat to their rooms and play video games. Desperate for an alternative, I suggested cards.

I mentioned the idea out of the blue. I didn’t really know any games, but my parents had left a pack on the mantle during their last visit.

My eight-year-old son suggested we play “Go Fish.” I asked him to teach me. It didn’t take long. It’s not very complicated. He beat me every time.

My 13-year-old suggested we try Crazy Eights. He explained the rules and proceeded to crush me several games in a row.

My parents told me to try Kings in the Corner. I didn’t remember the rules, but that is the beauty of the Internet. I found them on Wikepedia.

You deal seven cards to each player, put down a draw pile and lay out a card on each side, playing alternating suits in descending order. Kings are placed at the angles and you can lay down cards there too. The goal is to run out.

We played a few hands and this time I won. We were laughing and talking and the time passed. My son disclosed that he was a “card shark.” By the time we noticed, it was time for bed.

It is frustrating and probably futile to tell your kids to stop playing video games. Even if they pretend to comply, they will sneak a phone or computer under the covers and turn it on after the lights are out.

Asking them to play cards, I discovered, was something else entirely. It’s addictive and social and a skill they will take it with them and have forever.


We got into the rhythm of playing each evening. Next we graduated to Gin Rummy, which is an excellent two-player game. Friends suggested I try Poker, Eucher, Spite and Malace and Hand and Foot.

My father’s favorite game is Bridge. He learned it growing up. He told me that during the winters when he was growing up dinner, his parents and sister would play Bridge for an hour every night after dinner.

He said that regretted never teaching us. He said we were all too busy. Unlike other games, Bridge is pretty complicated and takes awhile to learn. As a result, its hard to find four people to play.

I now try to play with my kids every chance I get. It’s simple and joyous. And it reminds me that we are never too busy.

**Published by Ted Merz Mar 9, 2016**