Let them be loud
Have you ever played Spoons? It’s this raucous card game where you have one less spoon than the number of players in the game. The spoons are placed in the middle of the table, and players take turns drawing and passing cards. Once someone collects four-of-a-kind, everyone tries to grab a spoon. The person left with no spoon gets a letter, and when a player spells “s-p-o-o-n”, they’re out of the game. Last player standing wins.
It is not a quiet game.
It was my favorite card game as a kid.
Imagine siblings yelling and leaping across the table, spoons flying across the room and people diving and wrestling one another to reach them. There were squeals of delight, groans of defeat, shouts of dispute and uproarious laughter.
And inevitably there was also frustrated hollering from my dad in the next room when we got too loud for him to hear his tv show.
We would immediately get whisper quiet and PROMISE whole-heartedly to not get loud again.
But we would.
You just can’t contain that burst of excitement when someone sneakily reaches for a spoon and everyone realizes THIS IS IT. All thoughts of being quiet are flooded by the ultimate competitive goal of grabbing that spoon, and the squealing and groaning and laughter would come rushing back.
Here’s the thing. We played this game A LOT.
So even though he barked at us to be quiet on many many occasions, my dad never banned the game. And believe me, he could have.
I was thinking of this the other night when my three kids were getting slap-happy while playing a board game with me. They were so boisterous, and the game was dragging on for ages longer than it should have because all of them were literally falling out of their chairs, laughing at their own jokes instead of paying attention to their turn.
I was over it. I was tired. I wanted to go to bed. I wanted THEM to go to bed. I wanted them to – just – be – quiet.
But then I thought of my childhood games of Spoons, and despite myself, I had to smile.
My kids were LOUD. But it was a happy loud. And within the loudness, they were exercising their voice, learning to speak up for themselves in the face of direct opposition, practicing how to get the biggest laugh out of their audience, and learning to lose with style.
It struck me that important skill sets are developed in these loud moments, safely camouflaged within spirited board games with family on an ordinary summer night at home.
Maybe that’s why my dad put up with the noise.
Let them be loud.
There will be time for quiet moments later.