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Do you need to stay in a castle to rip your child’s attention away from their screens?

Do you need to stay in a castle to rip your child’s attention away from their screens?

No, but it sure helps.

“Boys, we’re going to play a board game!” I said with exaggerated enthusiasm.

“Oh no!”

“Anything but that!”

“I’m not coming.”

It was unanimous: I have been voted by all parties the worst dad on the planet. It’s an honor I’m proud to say I’ve won on multiple occasions–and this won’t be my last.

“Boys,” I started, giving my best impression of a haughty lord or land baron. “Tonight we’re in a castle. Tomorrow we’ll be in the equivalent of Motel 6. Tomorrow our view might be of a parking lot. But tonight, we have a terrace to ourselves complete with bats, pillars, and 1,000-plus years of history.”

“OK, just 19 seconds and I’ve earned a new badge.”

“Is the WiFi better?”

“Do we have to?”

“Yes,” I started. “We have to and the WiFi is terrible so we can just leave the phones here.”

“I have to go to the bathroom,” one said.

“How long do we have to play?”

“I don’t remember the rules of Yahtzee.”

I kept quiet and didn’t move. I wasn’t leaving and I was making that clear.

“Let’s go, guys, charge those phones, leave them here and let’s go see our castle.”

They moped along out of their room. But as we arrived at the rear of the castle, their spirits lightened.

If I said that we spent the next several hours in raucous joy it would be an exaggeration–but only slight. We managed to finish an entire round of Yahtzee without the aid of screens, WiFi, or free downloads.

The stars were out in full force just behind us as we’re in the middle of nowhere in Belgium.

Bats flew over us and scooped up protein-rich bugs swarming around the lights 10 meters above us.

I even managed to get a Leffe Blonde and my wife had a glass of white wine.

But none of this could put a damper on the Vegas-level high-rolling dice of Luca. He murdered us all with no less than three Yahtzees. I wish we had it on video, but … no phones. That’s OK, we’ll just have to remember it with our minds. Ooh, challenging.

Editor’s note: our room in this fine 1,000-year-old graceful beauty was less than our side-of-the-highway Motel 6 tomorrow night near Brussels.

Come on by and stay a while: Château de Harzé.

Castles: they're not just for royalty anymore

Castles: they’re not just for royalty anymore. A little game of Yahtzee on our terrace.

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