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‘What’s a TD?’ asked the question. ‘A telephone directory,’ I replied confidently

Jen Hogan: A brilliant game we recently discovered is similar to a talking version of a civics test – a primary school memory I still get embarrassed about

The family that plays together, stays together. I used to think this was a well-known saying, possibly derived from ancient Latin, or at the very least a well-considered and thought-out proverb by some parent philosopher or other passed down the generations. Google, however, tells me it’s a tweaking of a phrase that’s more about saying the Rosary, as opposed to playing Snakes and Ladders with the kids.

And that probably makes more sense anyway, to be honest. Because you’re taking your life into your hands playing that particular board game here, anyhow. Hell hath no fury like a sibling who has landed on a snake when he could almost smell victory.

Chess is played on loop here – and if there’s no opponent available, a child will even play against themselves, meaning check mate results in a myriad of emotions. While Monopoly – well governments have fallen for less.

Still their grá for board games hasn’t been dampened by their competitive nature or the tendency of these games to result in some members of the family not speaking to others for a period. And, in fairness, they have the benefit of providing an activity that everyone can partake in – no mean feat when you’ve a family with as significant an age spread as I do.


But there are some who are more reluctant partakers than others. When chance determines the winner, no problem – but if general knowledge or strategy decide their fate, well some aren’t as willing to take the risk of a potential public, sorry, familial, takedown.

And look I get it, I really do. I still burn at the memory of a civics test in primary school.

“What’s a TD?” asked the question.

“A telephone directory,” I replied confidently.

“Name a TD,” was the next demand.

“The Yellow Pages,” I wrote without hesitation.

The teacher read my answers out to the class. And then he thought it would be a good idea to let my parents know. Oh, how they all laughed. And then laughed some more. That was the day I decided I wasn’t keen on civics anymore. But the good news is I’m told the residual trauma should pass any year now.

I’ve been feeling smug as my retro parenting tactics proved it is possible to get an answer from your children without needing to text, sorry snap, them

We’ve recently discovered a brilliant game called 30 Seconds. To explain, if you’re not familiar with it, it’s a bit like a talking version of a civics test. You get a card and there’s a list of things on it – it could be anything – songs, films, people, TDs – and you have 30 seconds to describe what’s on the card to your team without saying the words on the card. You have a distinct advantage if you’ve lived on the planet longer, but everyone can play, because there’s always a way around describing the words on the page.

And so it came to pass that we all sat down to play 30 Seconds. And so it also came to pass that I realised sometimes parents and their offspring don’t live on the same planet.

“I’m pretty sure he’s a dancer,” one child said, so certain in his convictions that this was all he had to say on the matter for 29 seconds.

It was Ray D’Arcy.

“The President’s wife,” another exclaimed with absolute surety and a regarding of his fellow team-mates with utter disbelief and disdain, when they didn’t immediately guess Maura Higgins.

And then there was the sensitive manner in which one child described “somewhere you’d contact if you were really low, or depressed”.

Yes, you guessed it – Joe Duffy’s Liveline.

While it highlighted to me the gaps in their cultural education, they’ve equally pointed out that I could do with brushing up on my rappers. Turns out my I can’t tell my Kardashians apart either.

Yet, in spite of the mortification and judgy looks exchanged between fellow team-mates, or brothers and sister as they’re also known, and the unrelenting teasing that followed for days afterwards when one got it so wide of the mark it was considered content suitable for an Irish Times column, great craic was had. To the point they’ve looked to play it with us again. Even the teenagers.

I’ve been feeling smug as my retro parenting tactics proved it is possible to get an answer from your children without needing to text, sorry snap, them. And I’ve even momentarily wondered if this takes me into hip, cool, or at the very least, relatable parent territory.

But then I remember that although my rapper knowledge is somewhat limited, I know what a TD is now. And so, I’m not sure that it does.