“Dad – are we there yet?” A classic line uttered by millions of bored children on many a car journey. The very nature of the question provides enough evidence to suggest children of that age really do need their parents. Which is why my reply always started with “Has the car stopped yet?” to which the answer was generally “No!”, which warrants the final words on the matter “Well work it out for yourself then”. At which point Mum used to step in to provide the more soothing explanation of our journey and enter the joint wonderment at how many cows, blue cars, pubs or caravans that might still be seen if we all keep our eyes peeled.
As the children grow up (we have 2), the peeled eyes games seem to hold less interest. Many a child gazes obsessively into a tiny screen to see what pointless remark one of their mates has made that’s just too important to be missed. Head down, fingers tapping and not a physical interaction to be heard.
Not in our car. We’ve banned the electronic blighters unless they are used for maps to help us manage the “are we there yet?” question – which with my navigational skills and nothing more than a folded UK map from 2001, means we need one on most journeys. As a result, we’ve had to invent even more games we can play in the car. Here’s our Top 3 in-car games:
- The conversation game: This is where one of us opens our mouth to speak, the rest of us listen, we think about it for a short time, then someone else, in no particular order, steps in and does the same. It’s a great game and can last for hours. My only word of warning to parents is to avoid letting the speaking move towards what could be thought of as parental nagging or promoting sibling rivalry. The car after all is a confined space and has no room for anger.
- The singing game: This is usually where everyone in the car opens their mouth and attempts to sing along in time with the music blaring out through the speakers. Now this is an absolute lifer, this game and I’ve lived through it on the radio, cassettes, CDs and now iPods. It can get a little loud at times and you, like us, might realise a musical stage is no place for anyone in your family, but it’s great fun. Aside from the fact that other motorists might look at you with bemusement (jealousy I prefer to think), the only warning with this game is to ensure the driver doesn’t get too carried away and start head dancing from side to side.
- Shout out but with a hint of intelligence games: The traditional favourites and the ones you’ve all been waiting for:
- Subject games – you have to start with a letter (e.g. alphabetical, the last letter of the previous word) and name things of that subject beginning with the letter. Subjects such as names, places, foods are all firm favourites. If you don’t shout one out, within an amount of time you’re out. Never a good place to be if you’re starting with an X unless you’re playing in a foreign language that uses a lot of X’s.
- 20 questions – one person thinks of something and the rest of you have 20 questions to find out what it was. Be careful of the youngest, in our case our daughter, changing her mind half way through because you’re getting too close to the answer because that tends to spoil it somewhat.
- The story – everyone says two words and tries to make a sentence and a story. It can go a bit off piste with the children often taking it down a toilet route whilst the adults try valiantly to bring in a more mature angle. Can be very amusing though.