“Tell me about a time when you were afraid,” I asked my 10-year-old son.
“I guess it was that time when the tornadoes were close by and we had to go in the downstairs bathroom and shut the door. Then we lost power,” he answered.
“Oh, yeah. I remember that. That was crazy, wasn’t it?”
He was describing one of the many frightening events that have put Nashville on edge over the last few years. From multiple tornadoes to floods to the global pandemic and a Christmas day bombing downtown, we’ve seen it all. And my little guy has had questions about a lot of it.
What made this question unique was the context. It wasn’t at night before bedtime. It wasn’t at the dinner table over a family conversation. It wasn’t during a long drive to vacation with lots of time to kill.
The context? We were playing a board game!
I’ve got to say: I never thought I’d play a board game in which I would ask my son (and he would ask me) questions like the one above. Or others like:
- “What is one question you have about God?”
- “Who is the most important person in your life outside of family?”
- “What is one thing you worry about as you get older?”
- “Tell your opponent about a time when you changed your mind about something important.”
Level Up is quite a game. It’s meant for fathers and sons to start conversations and get to know each other a little better without having to force stilted questions. And it’s actually fun.
But it’s not all serious. Less serious questions pop up too, while players are on Level 1 especially. Questions like, “What made you most happy this week?” and “Would you rather lose the ability to read or lose the ability to speak?”
I won’t dig into all the details of the game—this isn’t an instruction manual after all—but the goal of the game is to score 25 points. Whoever scores 25 points first wins, and you get those points by answering questions. Don’t want to answer a question? No points. Certain prompts ask you to pick different cards with a different level of question.
But the point of the game really isn’t to win, although my 10-year-old son would tell you he enjoyed that part too. It’s more about just having an engaging conversation that goes beyond the typical “How was your day?” and “What happened at school?” types of questions that usually get predictable responses.
In the 30 minutes it took to play Level Up, I probably had one of the better conversations I’ve had with my son in quite a while—all while playing a board game. Who knew? The cool thing is that it’s not just about the questions. Those questions usually spark conversations that go in different directions that had nothing to do with the original prompt—and those discussions can go off and on for days after.
Level Up is a really creative idea for a board game. It’s perfect for a night when you just want to lounge at home and stay inside. Or when there’s a torrential downpour outside on a Saturday night—like the night we decided to play. If you have pre-teen sons, I’d recommend giving it a try.
So if you didn’t think a board game could help you learn a little more about your son, you’d be wrong. But that’s okay, because I was skeptical too. But now, thanks to Level Up, I’ll never forget about that time my family was huddled in a downstairs bathroom during a tornado.
It’s amazing the impact one simple question can have.
Purchase Level Up at ParentCueStore.org.