D&D is what our kids need

by MooshiMooshi

My kids are dedicated D&D players and have been for years. I’ve come to appreciate how important it is in their lives, and the way it allows them to form close bonds with a small group of friends in this era of Instagram and selfies. We host a weekly D&D session which has persisted for a year and a half now. The kids who come are not the socially awkward geeks of Stranger Things. They are the cool artsy kids, the kids who do drama and AP art and play in rock bands. The session goes on for 3 to 4 hours, with the kids all gathered around our dining room table. It sounds like the Superbowl every week, with the kids hooting and cheering loudly (and using a certain amount of bad language). After it is done, my kid sits with a few of them for a while longer, or they walk up and down the sidewalk outside, discussing religion and art and politics, as well as school gossip.

Both kids participate in another D&D session, which started about 3 years ago. Most of the kids have gone on to college, but every week they do their session, using Google Hangouts. This one is more subdued, but the kids are absolutely dedicated to it.

I just missed D&D myself. We had role playing games in college and I loved doing them, but my high school years were just a bit before D&D, and it wasn’t a thing at my university either. The next generation in our family, the ones who are in their 40’s now, played and still reminisce wistfully about those days. But I think it is even more important for today’s teen players, since it is one of the few activities left in which kids meet up face to face and talk to each other

This is a great OpEd from the NYTimes that expresses exactly what I have seen. I also think it is funny that an activity that was heavily criticized as leading kids into Gothdom and doom and Satanism back in the 80’s is now seen as a salvation from the doom of social media.

How do your kids engage with each other face to face? Do they have activities that encourage them to get off their phones and talk?

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80 thoughts on “D&D is what our kids need

  1. Mooshi, I didn’t think you were that much older than me! I recall in late middle school/early high school that my parents’ friends kids, the crowd who lived by the country club, were into D&D. They were 1 or 2 years younger than me, but I was you get than either of your boys is now. And you lived in a city!

  2. My kids hardly ever see their friends outside of school. They’ve never given a good explanation. DS just says he sees them enough at school.

    Mooshi, you must have a truly totebaggy school if the kids in AP art are considered “the cool kids.” :)

  3. I took improv classes a few years back. There were lots of grown up D&D players there. Good for adults with those leanings, but looking for their tribe (particularly if in a new city). It was very social with classes/shows/parties. I know of at least 1 marriage and several long term relationships that developed at that theater. The crowd was mostly 20-somethings.

  4. I think Mooshi considers the artsy kids cool compared to the straight up socially challenged computer/science geeks, who in no universe are cool. My sons went to school with Damon and the Afflecks and they were theater nerds. Not cool in any traditional BMOC ranking, but cooler than the Science Bowl team.

  5. “considers the artsy kids cool compared to the straight up socially challenged computer/science geeks, who in no universe are cool.”
    Partially, but this is a small HS in which a large percentage of students take academics seriously. And there are a lot of theater kids. We calculated that 12% of the student body were directly involved in the most recent musical, for example.

  6. Didn’t Urkel make the “straight up socially challenged computer/science geeks” cool?

  7. My kids are more like DD’s kids. Between school and sports, they honestly feel like they spend all the time they want with their friends. During basketball season they’ll occasionally meet up with boys from their teams at the neighborhood gym to shoot baskets. But otherwise they’re already spending 8:30 – 3:30 + 2 hours of sports practice during the week, and all they want on weekends is downtime.

    Summer is a bit different. Oldest does sports camps most of the summer, and will see friends at the neighborhood pool a couple times/week. That’s enough for him. Youngest still goes to sleepaway camp and when he’s home from that this is the first summer he’ll be allowed to bike to the pool on his own.

    Youngest is begging to play football this coming fall because all his friends are playing. We’re allowing it but I’m not excited. He’s super excited – he cares zero percent about football, has never played before, but he really enjoys doing sports with his friends.

  8. My observation in my area, is that the truly artsy kids attend the performing and visual arts citywide magnet school. These kids moved there in middle school. Admission is by audition/portfolio so these kids were serious pretty early on. Hi
    My kids have friends with different interests so there is no real one group they identify with. There is lots of crossover between groups. There is a lot of group texting, Face timing and game playing.

  9. My #1 kid is a bit into role playing with her friends, but it’s mostly animals based on characters in a book series they read. DH played some D&D growing up but the people who played in my town were (1) exclusively male and (2) not actually the smartest kids. Some of my friends were into live action role playing with wooden swords and things but I was excluded from that group too (perhaps because of my early curfew?).

    S&M, not IME! It is slightly better now for my kids, but when I was growing up (after Urkel) the nerds were definitely not cool. Nor were the artsy kids.

  10. Something interesting I just learned from my middle schooler – there is a crowd of Japanese middle school girls who have a regular D&D session going.

  11. (1) exclusively male and (2) not actually the smartest kids.

    This exactly describes the groups who did D&D in my day.

  12. OMG, major fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. DD just last week finished participating in her school’s production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” She’s heartbroken.

  13. Sort of on topic, I will say that my son’s Fortnite (computer game) habit has actually been a positive thing for his real-life social life. He had a best friend back in early-elementary school, but the two of them sort of drifted apart for a few years because their interests diverged. They’re both very into Fortnite, though, and playing together has totally strengthened their friendship to the point that they’re best friends again (and will often get together to do things that have nothing to do with Fortnite). There have also been a couple of cases where DS knew kids only in passing, but when they discovered their mutual passion for Fortnite, they started playing together, and the online playing has led to real-life friendships.

  14. We live in a densely populated town with an inviting downtown, so both DS and DD will frequently just grab a friend (or a few) and walk or bike downtown to get lunch or a snack. Sure, they have their phones out when they’re together, but they’re also interacting “for real.” So, going out to eat is a major way that they interact with peers in real life.

  15. NoB, my middle kid does that too! They go for pizza or to a nearby ramen place that is part of an Asian grocery store. And who does he do it with? His D&D crowd! (and also one girl who he has been friends with since kindergarten)

  16. @ NoB – same about Fortnite giving common ground. Also our kids will keep in touch with other kids they meet at camps via Fortnite.

    Our kids aren’t on social media, and youngest doesn’t have a phone yet although I suppose that will change, so when they’re not playing video games they’re not on a phone. To the point that it’s kind of a pain with oldest DS. He’s impossible to get ahold of.

  17. Both my kids have played D&D, but neither got hooked on it over the long term. We hosted a few D&D games at our house, and the typical players I’ve met are very passionate about it. It’s not a game you play casually since you have to collect all those cards.

    This past weekend my youngest went to game night at a friend’s place, but they played Risk and Cards Against Humanity, a favorite among many of her friends. My oldest met his SO at one of those board game cafes. My 20-something niece loves to play games when she visits our house, but it’s usually Dominoes or trivia games.

    Last month we hosted a cast party at our house for the college play my D was in. Those kids and most drama kids I’ve known are very cool, in an artsy, unconventional sort of way. If that’s not cool I don’t know what is. ;)

  18. One of my cousin’s sons met his now-wife at a board game social group. They are both devoted players of games of which I have never heard, but which they described (with near-religious zeal) as a great alternative to screens. After talking with them, I was all set to buy one of these games, confiscate all phones, and force DH and the kids to play at our next family event. But then I lost the slip of paper with the names of the games, and it fell off the radar screen. Maybe it was Catan?

  19. I do not have a subscription to the NY Times. Is this the type of navel gazing article that makes the folks on this blog say, “well of course, it’s the NYT” ?? So, the author has decided that she and her friends are cool because she has decided to spend fewer hours on social media and more hours on board games. I happen to agree with her lifestyle change because it aligns with my own personal values and interests, but I’m not sure that you get to call yourself cool (and declare it in the NYT) merely because you do something you enjoy doing. But I’m not an editor and I’m not in the business of selling newspapers/ads, so there’s that.

  20. The status of the Crown of Thorns and portions of The True Cross along with Notre Dame’s other treasures can’t be confrimed. I assume they must have had a fire plan in place.

  21. she and her friends are cool because she has decided to spend fewer hours on social media and more hours on board games.

    It’s the 2019 version of, “I don’t own a TV.”

  22. For all my dismissal of the article as navel gazing, I do share MM’s concern about teens interacting face to face, and actively encourage it in my house. Do I want to host a bunch of kids on a sleepover in the basement so that I have to tiptoe around in the kitchen the next morning because they sleep until 10 am? No. But I say yes because I think the time with my kids and their friends is valuable.

    I also think that a persons natural sociability will be met one way or another. MM’s kids play D&D and my kid wants sleepovers because that’s who they are. If they enjoy it, that’s wonderful, but pushing teens to do something they don’t want to do or forcing them to be more social than they are comfortable with can backfire. Many of us on this blog appear to be naturally social, and it can be hard for someone like that to appreciate that others aren’t comfortable in social situations – if they chose to be less social, it doesn’t make them ‘wrong’, it makes them less social.

    For those who like board games, Rotten Apples is a *slightly* cleaner version of Cards Against Humanity, and has brought many people to tears of laughter at our house. Highly recommend.

  23. A couple of things that makes D&D different from other games – it has been around for a pretty long time, and has been attacked repeatedly as something evil that leads to Satanism and mass shootings. So perhaps the Times published this as an antidote to all the published negativity.

    It also is not really a board game, and is definitely not a card game. It is in fact a structured kind of storytelling. The kids who play spend hours developing scenarios and creating characters. Another NY Times article from a while back talks about the ways in which D&D influenced a number of authors
    “The league of ex-gamer writers also includes the “weird fiction” author China Miéville (“The City & the City”); Brent Hartinger (author of “Geography Club,” a novel about gay and bisexual teenagers); the sci-fi and young adult author Cory Doctorow; the poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie; the comedian Stephen Colbert; George R. R. Martin, author of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series (who still enjoys role-playing games). Others who have been influenced are television and film storytellers and entertainers like Robin Williams, Matt Groening (“The Simpsons”), Dan Harmon (“Community”) and Chris Weitz (“American Pie”).”

    However, the point of my post was really the question at the bottom – for those kids who are not the D&D type, what other activities provide that kind of interaction? And is it important for kids to do something like that?

  24. The kids that played D & D when I was in HS were really into it, but it was almost 100% boys. It was the 80s, but these were not the cool kids even in a nerdy HS. They tended to stick to themselves and they definitely weren’t thought of as “cool”. I checked with DD about her high school and it doesn’t sound like D & D is a big thing, but it could be that it isn’t a thing with her friends. Sports are a really big deal in our district and many kids tend to be 2 pr 3 sport athletes. DD plays tennis, but that means that she just plays int he fall, so she has plenty of time for other clubs/academics. Several of her friends are theatre kids, but many of them are also in band or chorus. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to participate in sports since the rehearsals conflict with the sports practices/games.

    DD spends a lot of time with her friends on weekends. She also will sit and do homework with different people and they’re on FaceTime. She can’t see her camp friends often due to distance, but they talk a lot via FaceTime or Snap.

  25. I guess I am not that worried about my kids interacting with people etc because I was very shy as a child among adults and kids I didn’t know. As I grew up I gradually became more comfortable among strangers and the older I get the less I care about how foolish I look and approach others to make small talk readily.
    Each generation has this similar sort of concern in one way or the other but most kids find people they want to befriend, sometimes with a few bumps along the way.

  26. My.nephew who will be 30 this year goes to an adult camp every summer where they do role-playing, and play settlers of Caran and Munchkin and do pretend sword battles and costumes/makeup. I offered him tickets to a comicon-type gathering of his choice in his state for his birthday. My parents were very against this, saying they didn’t think his parents (my sister & BiL) would want him doing such things. I ignored that, but it may be why he never took me up on it. I know that LGBTQ people/couple/relationships are accepted at that camp, and suspect that ax&D might be part of it too. “Suspect” is the wrong word, because of how negative it sounds. He stays in touch with these people throughout the year, more than any other friends I know of.

  27. *Settlers of Catan and D&D.

    That post was in support of Mooshi’s point about the things people have tried to associate with this game.

  28. “It’s the 2019 version of, “I don’t own a TV.””

    Totally! Although people still LOVE to haughtily tell you that they don’t own a TV as well.

    DS spends 8-9 hours a day at school including after care. Plus activities. He’s a kid who needs more alone time and unstructured time than I did/do, so he’s not generally pushing for much more interaction with friends at this point. When there are longer school breaks, he will want to get together with friends, but just a regular weekend – he often doesn’t. Baseball season is start up, so for the next 4 months, he’ll be really busy and looking for more alone time, not less. We’ll see how that changes as he gets to be a teenager.

  29. I can see the connections between accusations that people who like board games and people who don’t watch tv. I suppose there are some people who are like what Rhett disparates so happily, who heard about it somewhere and publically proclaim their membership because they think it does something for their image. I have no idea of the numbers, because I tend not to think of them as groups in the first place, but there are very certainly people who do either of those things simply because that’s what appeals to them, just as not everyone who sails or sings in a choir has delusions of how people think of them when they mention those pleasures, and not everyone who self-diagnosis the latest trendy neurodiversity is doing it to be cool. I don’t understand how /why it feels so good to assume everyone who does a thing is the same as everyone else who does it, and to put them all down be aide of it.

  30. *disparages
    Eyeroll and giggle at myself for getting that particular word wrong.

  31. My incognito browser access to the NYT has been inconsistent in recent weeks. Sometimes it lets me read 5 articles at a time, sometimes 3 at a time, and sometimes none.

    I agree that face-to-face time with friends is important, but for many kids as described here that need is fully satisfied by time in school, sports, or other organized activities. And some kids (and adults) need more alone time than others do. I have started to worry that excessive screen time that supplants other activities is bad for us. I forget if someone already posted this here.

    Screen exposure starts young. And children who spent more than two hours a day looking at a screen got lower scores on thinking and language tests, according to early results of a landmark study on brain development of more than 11,000 children that the National Institutes of Health is supporting. Most disturbingly, the study is finding that the brains of children who spend a lot of time on screens are different. For some kids, there is premature thinning of their cerebral cortex. In adults, one study found an association between screen time and depression.

    A toddler who learns to build with virtual blocks in an iPad game gains no ability to build with actual blocks, according to Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on screen time.

    In small towns around Wichita, Kan., in a state where school budgets have been so tight that the State Supreme Court ruled them inadequate, classes have been replaced by software, much of the academic day now spent in silence on a laptop. In Utah, thousands of children do a brief, state-provided preschool program at home via laptop.

    Tech companies worked hard to get public schools to buy into programs that required schools to have one laptop per student, arguing that it would better prepare children for their screen-based future. But this idea isn’t how the people who actually build the screen-based future raise their own children.

    In Silicon Valley, time on screens is increasingly seen as unhealthy. Here, the popular elementary school is the local Waldorf School, which promises a back-to-nature, nearly screen-free education.

    So as wealthy kids are growing up with less screen time, poor kids are growing up with more. How comfortable someone is with human engagement could become a new class marker.

  32. @S&M – I wasn’t reading that as people who like board games = people who are proud to tell you that they don’t own a TV. It’s the snide remarks about how superior a specific interest is when compared to the plebes who are wasting their lives on social media. It’s very similar to the “I don’t OWN a TV” comment when made while sneering at those who do.

    The tone of the linked article tended that way, IMHO. (not Mooshi’s commentary)

    I like board games, and I like in person socializing. DS & I love playing Stratomatic baseball, which I learned from my dad. We play virtual games with him as well. I also like TV and social media. I don’t think D&D in particular would be up my alley, as I’m really not into any kind of role playing, and I’m not that creative either.

  33. I seem to recall that television was going to destroy our minds and our families too.

  34. @RMS – Yep. That’s what we were told when I was young. Now that time is remembered as the heyday of kids playing outside, drinking from the hose and the like. OK, sure. We did that. But we watched a hell of a lot of TV in the 80’s too. I’m not sure the You Tube stuff my kid watches is more brain-rotting than the stupid soap operas, cartoons, and game shows I watched when I was his age. And I had more free time to watch that crap because I was home more often – no aftercare, no summer day camps, not a lot of activities until 7th grade. Either I was home with a parent, a babysitter, or by myself during those times or at a friend’s house – also watching a lot of TV!

  35. I seem to recall that television was going to destroy our minds and our families too.

    I think every new technology has its predictions against excess. When books were first printed, I am sure there were prohibitions against too much reading. Reading is a solitary activity.

  36. “In adults, one study found an association between screen time and depression.”

    Correlation, causation?
    It’s entirely possible that people who tend to depression also tend to seek out screen time, either to self-medicate or because they want to avoid being around actual people.

    And it’s not clear that poor kids have fewer opportunities to interact with other people. For one thing, they often live in smaller quarters with more people than do UMC kids. They are more likely to be in day care or after-school care in group settings.

  37. “It’s entirely possible that people who tend to depression also tend to seek out screen time, either to self-medicate or because they want to avoid being around actual people.”

    Right. Or maybe they are lonely and looking for a virtual connection even though they don’t have a lot of friends/family nearby to get together with in person. The alternative to virtual interaction for some people/situations is not in-person interaction, it’s none.

  38. The sort of person who is seeking out as a newly adopted activity FtF D&D for social contact is likely someone who doesnt have to get dressed in street vs athletic clothes every day to leave the house. They likely work from home, do their exercise solo, interact with colleagues and family electronically. They aren’t hanging with other parents at sports practice or outside the school doors at pickup.

  39. DS & I love playing Stratomatic baseball

    Ivy, I knew there were a reason why I like you. I’ve been in an online stratomatic league for over 25 years. We started using a bbs before anyone knew what the internet was. We try to get together every year in Phoenix for our draft and to see some spring training games, and we’ve had a few in-season trips to different ballparks.

    I tried to get DS into it but he’s not a stat geek like I am. He prefers the video games because he’s really into the uniforms. He spends hours making sure all the players have the correct pant lengths and such. He does the same with Madden – he can tell you which helmet and facemask every player in the league uses.

  40. @DD – I love it! DS loves playing MLB The Show too – and he has come up with some really ugly uniforms. But he likes Strato too – making the lineups, doing the paper scorecard, consulting the charts. He’s a stats geek though – he is always keeping track of his own stats for little league and studies the Strato cards and the back of his baseball cards. We’ve got a new tourney going with the new 2018 cards. It’s a great connection between him & my dad too. The only problem is that it is risky to play on the deck because the card blow around too easily – and I love sitting out on the deck when the weather is nice playing cards or board games (as long as the pieces are hefty enough to withstand a breeze).

  41. “The sort of person who is seeking out as a newly adopted activity FtF D&D for social contact is likely someone who doesnt have to get dressed in street vs athletic clothes every day to leave the house. They likely work from home, do their exercise solo, interact with colleagues and family electronically. ”
    Um, that was my point – the kids who are doing D&D are NOT hermits in their houses. It requires too much human interaction to be attractive to real hermits

  42. My point was that for an adult like this writer, if you already have plenty of reason to leave the house and interact with others, your life might be equally enriched by A FtF game or online activity. You arent in NEED of additional FtF interaction. For adults and kids who are already active in FtF activities, screen time solo or communal is a reasonable alternative. For those who are exhausted by all the required interpersonal contact of their daily lives, online may in fact be preferable. The value judgment being made is that being FtF social is a better choice.

  43. Ivy, playing in the wind is tough. I just play the computer game and don’t buy the cards anymore, although I did get them last year. I ended up not using them much. That’s great that your DS is so into the stats.

  44. I’ll tag a trip report onto the topic. It’s now late just about everywhere…

    We had our 10 days in New Zealand – depending on how you count. One night on the plane – two nights in Auckland hotel – Airbnb near Waitomo for 2 – Hotel in Tongariro national park for 1 – Air Bnb near Rotarua for 2 – Rural Hotel for 1 – One night on the plane.

    Auckland was a charming bright city. We had stellar baked goods and breakfasts. Shopping was big city stuff, nothing that was particularly exciting. We spent an excellent morning at the War Memorial Museum. Almost missed it as we are not particularly interested in War Memorials. However, it turns out that there are many things named “war memorial” in NZ that have very little to do with memory or war. It just seems to be a naming convention. The museum was full of information about volcanos, kiwis, moas, Maori and more. We went to the aquarium and saw sharks and penguins and other aquarium things. We walked and ubered and made it around the clean, friendly and fairly compact city.

    Morning #2 we picked up our rental car. I made the chilluns chant “keep to the left” every time we went through an intersection. Driving was much harder than I anticipated; however, I remember that I was actually pretty bad at learning to drive when I was 15, so I guess it is just not one of those skills that I am above-average in (or average, or even in the top 75%). We drove fast out of Auckland – for the first 20 miles. I think there is very little divided freeway in the whole country. We were mostly on 2 lane roads traveling 55+mph, even when traveling main routes.

    We went to Hobbiton which was colorful and charming and well worth the detour and time. It is meticulously detailed and magical. We watched the first Hobbit movie in anticipation (and read the Hobbit out loud in home school this spring). Might have been the highlight of the trip for some of my own hobbit-like creatures.

    Then on to Waitomo – land of the famous glow worm caves. I will say that they are probably the most spectacular natural phenonmenon I have ever witnessed. We went on a great tour that involved some tea and biscuits as well as some appreciation of other cave features and a reported Moa skeleton as well.

  45. A brief interlude to talk about The Moa. Its a giant flightless bird. It was hunted to extinction 600 years ago. It looms large in the NZ consciousness. Pictures, skeletons, stories, fables, t-shirts galore. It is like the kiwi, but less cute and more menacing. But dead. But forever in our hearts.

  46. After Waitomo we went down to TheNationalPark. It was glorious and cold and beautiful and the small people tolerated a long-ish walk through the woods and up the slope of Mt. Doom. (That is not it’s real name, but that is where I know it from.) We dined on delightful cup-o-soup. Unlike the US, NZ still has lots and lots of powdered soup mixes (Roasted Pumpkin!! Thai Red Curry!!!!) available at your local grocery store.

    Then on to Rotarua where we went to a highly choreographed and charming Maori dinner and presentation, a hike where we did not meet the elusive kokuko bird, and some good ice cream.

    Finally, one night in small town where I had a meet and greet at a hospital. We talked about a job and supposedly an offer that is in the works. More driving on skinny, scary roads.

    In summary, the coffee was amazing, the rolling green hills did have cows or alpacas or sheep on them, the people were friendly, the parks were amazing. Food was not particularly interesting, but was fresh and good and not crazy expensive. (Sidebar parks: all had amazing equipment – every small town had something we had never seen before and seemed a bit dangerous. We talked a lot about why American parks are not as good. Perhaps it has to do with the absence of civil liability for injury in NZ).

    I feel like we could have spent another month or two and still not seen everything we wanted. Real conversation — GermanTourist: How long are you staying? Me: About 9 days. GT: Wow! [dripping sarcasm]. That’s a real long time! Most Americans only stay 7!! — We met a ton of Brits and Germans on 6 week NZ holidays, and a few Americans on 7 day trips.

  47. Ivy, sorry I was so garbled before.
    I won’t question the veracity or your claim to have heard people make snide, superior remarks about being better for not watching tv. My experience here—and only here, not irl—is that the snotty, snide remarks come at the idea that some people don’t watch tv from people who think they shod.I had never heard of anyone being offended by such a thing until a conversation required knowing the characters and plot line of a particular show. I asked for explanation, and explained my ignorance by me ruining that we didn’t have a tv. Rhett completely blindsided me with nasty comments about how being clueless about a conversation made me somehow think I was better. Because we all like to be in the dark. Over the next few years, he hounded me about the fact that we talk with each other on tech that is capable of downloading programming. He is correct about that. But the fact is that watching shows isn’t much of my life. I still don’t know what’s going on most of the time people talk about shows on here, but I don’t ask for explanations or to be included anymore, because I can live without the antagonism. He’s mostly been quiet about it, because I haven’t said anything, but a year ago when I was asking for advice on a device that is compatible with watching programming, he and Milo and maybe another guy were all up in my grill that I didn’t really know what I wanted, it would be much better if I’d let them explain my wants and needs to me. Very condescending.
    I suppose there are vegetarians who are obnoxious about it. I try not to mention it & just order a baked potato, hold the bacon bits. But there are plenty of cracks people make about vegetarians. The tv thing is the same way. I find it pertinent when we are discussing menu planning and our choices, but not interesting otherwise. Like I said, I won’t question your reporting of your experience, but if the TB kept back issues, you could certainly see that the haughtiness and antagonism around tv viewing definitely runs in the opposite direction as well.

    Going back to proofread, with glasses, now.

  48. Arg, arg, arg! I should probably just give up typing longer things on the phone.
    “Shod” should be should, and later on there should be a mention.

    Point was, people pick games, food, and activities for lots of different reasons and being rude to people who make different choices than you is not a good thing.

    Denver, I’ve never heard of Strato, but your description of you son spending so much time on his characters’ attire reminds me of Team Fortress 2, which my son has played for years. It has all the comic stock characters of a classic WW2 movie, and players compete (informally) for the best, wackiest hats & other clothing.

  49. Ivy – your name has been added to the File of Grievances. I hope you’ve learned your lesson.

  50. It is a BLOG. It is about trying to have a friendly conversation. Stop taking everything so personally. Stop reading into every single word and sentence. Stop criticizing and nit picking and driving people away.

  51. GermanTourist: How long are you staying? Me: About 9 days. GT: Wow! [dripping sarcasm]. That’s a real long time! Most Americans only stay 7!!

    I wish I had a job where I could take more than two weeks off at a time. The most I had is three weeks to go to the home country and that was a one time thing. The good thing in my current job is we have more people now, so I have transferred some responsibilities to others. The flood of emails per day has slowed. I sometimes feel it would be nice to be a teacher with the summers off.
    In the home country there were many public holidays so long weekends were common. I don’t recall people in office jobs taking significant time off – the most was a month and that was usually for weddings. Some companies allowed you to bank your vacation so people who were contemplating retirement could take their accumulated vacation and travel if they wanted to.

  52. Louise, a month for a wedding! I know they are elaborate there, but wow. The standard German vacation allotment is 6 weeks per year, in addition to a bunch of public holidays, like around Christmas. I remember someone who worked where I did in Berlin banked her vacation days to take half a year so she and her bf could drive to SE Asia. What I didn’t catch into then but sure did when we lived in East Germany was the disapproval of American “busyness”. Where did you go, and did you have much time for site-/ sight-seeing?

    Anon @ 5:41 excellent parody of people policing stuff they don’t need to. High five!

  53. Ivy – your name has been added to the File of Grievances. I hope you’ve learned your lesson

    LOL!!!

    Down Under – awesome trip report. How was the flight with the couch-like seats?

  54. DD and Ivy – my dad loved Stratomatic. I found stacks of cards in his garage after he passed.

    My dad skipped D&D, though he played that and Risk frequently, and went straight to war games. He and his buddies would re-enact different battles or full wars using cards, maps, little figurines, you name it. They would all get together for a full day and play. I tried to follow once, but my brain gave up. They all have this knowledge of what really happened, and then they go and try to change it to see what the outcome could have been.

    The stratomatic guys and the war game guys were different sets of friends too. I think only one of two of them overlapped. They were all the nerds and geeks of the 1950s-1970s.

  55. “He and his buddies would re-enact different battles or full wars using cards, maps, little figurines, you name it. They would all get together for a full day and play. I tried to follow once, but my brain gave up. They all have this knowledge of what really happened, and then they go and try to change it to see what the outcome could have been.”

    I did a lot of that, especially in HS and college. When I was in MS, some friends of mine and I created our own WWI game. We endlessly collected bottle caps to use for the armies and drew lots of detailed maps. I don’t think we really ever actually played the game though!

  56. GermanTourist: How long are you staying? Me: About 9 days. GT: Wow! [dripping sarcasm]. That’s a real long time! Most Americans only stay 7!!

    This is one area where I think Americans have their priorities totally screwed up. We have a pitiful amount of vacation time compared to Europeans. When I was in my 20s, we had a couple of British ex-pats in our friend group. We took some weekend trips together and stuff and they would always want to go for much longer than we could because they had 6 weeks of vacation. Most of us were still in low-level jobs so we only had 2 or 3 weeks.

    Our big trip this summer is three weeks, and it will be the first time I’ve ever taken more than a week and a half off work at a time.

  57. “Anon @ 5:41 excellent parody of people policing stuff they don’t need to. High five!”

    And this is where you should stop.

  58. Well, Americans in general are opposed to a democratic socialist centrally controlled labor union form of government. And as we leave behind our mid 20th century flirtation with those ideas, we are embracing the gig economy as an expression of entrepreneurship and personal freedom, rather than a return to piecework and long term economic insecurity. Yes we are culturally averse to perceived idleness. But we cant afford long vacations, either.

  59. Our big trip this summer is three weeks, and it will be the first time I’ve ever taken more than a week and a half off work at a time.

    I’m taking just under 2 weeks off this summer, and already feeling stressed about it. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission, but the work piles up while I’m out and reentry is so hard. I’ve told DH that for 2020 I want to try to take more, but shorter trips.

  60. Love the trip report including the asides and handles- Flat Whites for Everyone! ::) Having a really good flat white is on my bucket list, because I think even the Starbucks ones are pretty good.

    The Europeans that I work with rarely take truly extended vacations – 2 weeks in August and 2 weeks at Christmas, but not a month anytime. I’ve said it before, but one of the reasons I am really reluctant to leave my current job is that I have a very generous time off policy – lots of holidays (15 paid) plus 6 weeks vacation.

  61. Flat whites are the best and I still haven’t found a great one in the states. An Australian restaurant opened in NY, but I didn’t get a chance to visit before they closed.

  62. I didn’t know about flat whites until I went to Sydney. It’s like a latte, but it has less foam. They do something to the milk so there isn’t as much foam. More espresso. I don’t like milk so I like flat whites more than lattes. You can try a flat white at Starbucks because they started serving them a few years ago.

  63. “They do something to the milk so there isn’t as much foam.”

    I’m thinking that milk starts off without foam, so if you don’t want as much foam, you don’t do as much foaming. In the extreme case where you want no foam, you just add milk.

    Or am I missing something?

  64. The thing about the Starbucks one is that they also use some special coffee that is better (IMHO) and WHOLE milk. Yum!

  65. Starbucks flat whites are my favorite drink there. I didn’t realize they originated in Australia.

  66. Denver Dad,

    You don’t know the half of it. Not only do they get 6 (or 8!) Weeks of vacation, but annual leave requests are basically non-negotiable. “I need to take two weeks off in July.” “But that’s right in the middle of the most crucial phase of the project!” That’s why you get paid the big bucks Mr. Boss Man – deal with it.

    In the US a 4 month PTO ban isn’t even questioned.

  67. we are embracing the gig economy as an expression of entrepreneurship and personal freedom, rather than a return to piecework and long term economic insecurity.

    If by “we”, you mean the people running these companies who don’t want to have to treat their employees like actual employees, then yes, we are embracing it. If “we” means the people actually working these jobs who would much prefer to have regular full-time jobs but can’t find them, then no, we are not embracing it.

  68. Denver – It’s anyone who uses Uber or makes purchases Amazon. Anyone who eats at restaurants that ensure they have only part-time employees, or remain smaller than the requirements of providing health care. Anyone who uses, works for, or invests in companies that contract vendors to do more and more services.

  69. And by we I mean all the 20-35 year olds who have bought the bill of goods that cobbling together a bunch of side hustles mean flexibility to travel or perform or compete – and no boss but yourself!

    I think of it as a version of the old license plate
    RETIRED – no boss, no clock, no stress, no money

  70. That is definitely not how it works for my European colleagues.

    So just more professional courtesy when scheduling time off? I’m certain the option of taking less time then they are alloted is off the tableZ

  71. And by we I mean all the 20-35 year olds who have bought the bill of goods that cobbling together a bunch of side hustles mean flexibility to travel or perform or compete – and no boss but yourself!

    I think that’s a very small group, though. I think most of the people doing these are doing them because they can’t find full-time jobs. And most of the rest are doing them as true side hustles – to make some extra cash to supplement their regular jobs.

  72. @Rhett – I mean, the Europeans I work with and for do take vacations, but not during big projects. Projects do tend to be somewhat suspended for a couple weeks in August and around Christmastime, which makes it easier to get away though. But I assure you, saying “I’m taking a month off in July just as this project is launching – see you suckas!” would not go over well. Most in high level positions also work/check in throughout their vacation just like the Americans. That has been my experience working with the French, Dutch AND Germans.

    @DD – I agree with you. Most of the Uber/Lyft drivers that I’ve used are doing it on the side of another crappy PT job. I’ve also had college students and bored retirees.

  73. But I assure you, saying “I’m taking a month off in July just as this project is launching – see you suckas!” would not go over well.

    Ah for clarification it wasn’t a month. More that the time off ban in the US can be 3 or more months before to 3 or more months after. In Europe it’s more like 3 weeks before to 3 weeks after. Outside of that if someone wants to take off school vacation week it’s not questioned.

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