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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Board Games & Questionable Values

Our children came home from Russia at older ages.  They could not play many board games beyond Candyland or Mouse Trap due to language.  Now they’re ready for Monopoly.

I’m not sure that I am!

Times have changed, in case you haven’t seen a Monopoly game recently.  My own experience dates from… oh… well… let’s say  “a long time ago” when the card read, “Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200”.  Now they’ve upped the ante to $2 million.

The simple gameboard pieces have currently morphed into all-out marketing strategies, not that young people understand that concept.  Leafing through the Rule Book, the designers spell it out for us.  We have our choice of moving across the spaces with:  a Motorola Mobile Phone, Toyota Prius, Starbucks Coffee Cup, McDonald’s French Fries, New Balance Running Shoe, Labradoodle dog, a jet airplane (no specific airline named-?!), or a laptop computer (again, no brand).  I don’t know what happened to the last two items, maybe there was a promotional bidding war that was never concluded.

No longer is Monopoly’s setting on the Boardwalk in New Jersey, now its properties are scatttered across 22 cities in the US.  All of which makes for interesting conversation, because my kids don’t understand all of the urban icons of American cities.

“Mama,” Petya sidles up to me during a break in the multi-hour game.  “Should I be in L.A. or Houston?”

“For what?” I wonder if he’s thinking about a trip.  The game lasts so long that I forget that they’re playing.

“Where to build my hotels!” he’s urgent.

“Oh,” I say, getting it.  “Go for L.A., lots to do there.  Houston is humid, not good for my hair.”

“So… not a good idea to have four hotels in Houston?” he continues.

“Only if you need to overnight there….” I hedge.

In this day and age, each player is given $15 million with which to start.  I mean, that’s how you started out in life, right?  The Luxury Tax has been replaced with Interest Due on Credit Card Debt.  Rather appropriate.  In place of the railroads of yesteryear, there are four of the nation’s most-traveled US airports, not to mention that the two utilities are now service providers—an Internet Service Provider and a Cell Phone Service Provider.  I’m becoming concerned about any questionable values the game may be imparting, but we have other issues looming.

Some of my kids still don’t know the higher numbers in English, and many have no clue as to the locations being mentioned.  Ask them about a back alley in Europe, and they’d know the place, but here….

“I want to buy the barn,” Sashenka declares as I stroll through the room.

Something doesn’t sound right.

“Barn?  What barn?” I ask.

“Grand Oleee Oprah,” she tries to explain.  “Nashville.”

She must imagine that horses come with the barn, and hence, her interest.

“That’s not a barn,” I say.  “That’s the Grand Ole Opry where they sing country music.”

She’s crestfallen.  Who would want THAT?!

Another declares excitedly, “I’m buying Washington for 32 million!” while counting their money aloud.

I wonder about the deal of an entire nation’s capital for 32 million dollars, but instead comment, “I thought you don’t even have $3 million….”

“I had extra on the side, so I bought it for 3 million 200.”

“I thought you said it was 32 million to buy Washington.”

“No, just the White House.”


“Mama,” Pasha enthuses, “I’m losing money, but I’ve got a lot of places!”

“Yeah, you and a lot of other people these days….”

“Did you know that on bank holidays, they give you extra money?” he asks.

“Nope, never knew that.  I may have to change banks.”

“But you know what’s best of all?”

“What’s that?”

“In America, you can pay to get out of jail, or pull a card that says, ‘Get Out of Jail Free’!”

I see that I have my work cut out for me.  There is no free parking in our neck of the woods, no Community Chest, and you don’t get ahead by a simple roll of the dice.  I’ll tell our Teen Tycoons later.



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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Haha….we still have the old Monopoly set. I also have a French monopoly set, but we haven’t played with that. And it astounds me that my eight year old who is consistently thrown by a page of simple math homework can count monopoly money so accurately. I had no idea Monopoly was so up to date with the times nowadays.

    • avatar admin says:

      Yep, you heard it here first, Wendy, lol-! Your French Monopoly set (now that’s interesting) got me to thinking… you won’t believe this… we have an Italian Scrabble set-?! I’ll have to find where it is (check back around 2020 for that one). I don’t think we ever played it, but what makes it Italian-? Now Russian, that would require a different alphabet, but Italian… hmmm…. The possibilities are endless. 🙂

  2. avatar J'know says:

    Oh, dear… they really changed Monopoly that much?? Kind of scary – simultaneously realistic (Interest Due on Credit Card Debt, the modern utilities, airports instead of railroads) and unrealistic (who, as you say, starts life with $15 million?, and really, MOST of the time you can’t buy your way out of jail… although apparently now and then a criminal does get a “get out of jail free” card…) And the gameboard pieces… quite (appropriately?) modern, but darn!, the scottie dog was my favorite when we played! It would be quite confusing for a naive, still-living-at-home-and-hasn’t-had-a-first-job-yet, non-adopted/non-traumatised kid, much less one who didn’t have the advantages of beginning life in this country/language/culture/loving family setting. (Interestingly, I think MacDonalds still uses the New Jersey place names when they run their Monopoly games.)

    What other games do your kids play? I imagine that many of them pose unique challenges for a child adopted from another culture, particularly the older ones? My kids, neither of which is adopted, like Apples to Apples, a game I was not aware existed until my now-17-year-old came home from school one day during her freshman year, still laughing about the game they had played at an orientation/peer mentoring program the school provided to all incoming freshmen. This is a huge favorite among the teens, both at the high school during free times (like the down times during marching band practices) and when they are hanging out at a friend’s house. I like it as well; it works well for a mixed-age group. I began playing it with my Girl Scout troop, a mixed-age group that at the time included kids in first grade through freshmen in high school. Even the youngest ones acquitted themselves well, as there is a lot of humor in the potential mismatches one can play that even the youngest ones understand. For a while when they were younger, we had a family game night; if not every week, at least every other week. We don’t do that very often any more, due to work schedules and school commitments, but we have almost nightly game nights when we visit my parents. We regularly play dominoes (the “Mexican Train” version where a player may start an additional line or “train” that all may play on). We play a lot of word games in our house (or car, or waiting room) too; we’ve found the iPad to be more portable than a pencil and a Games magazine. But I’ve usually got a magazine or two stashed in the car and in my laptop case.

    How on earth do you even begin to explain this false example of life in America? Do they understand that it’s not really like that?

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