I see discussion talking about use of miniatures in the game. They provide a good visual in terms of keeping track of the action. Miniatures are OK for AD&D if you have the money and the opportunity to actually find ones that pertain to the game.
But for those who aren't interested in miniatures or are not able to buy them, there is still good old fashioned paper and pencil. After all these games, my players finally asked about how to get a better idea of what is going on in a melee situation as I describe it.
I told them make a map, just like they do in a dungeon. This is part of asking questions of the DM as the party enters areas unexplored, except this map is for the Players rather than the PC's.After having a "melee map" a couple of times now, they are beginning to realize the value of asking detailed and specific questions.
They are also able to ask better questions now that they can "see" what is being described to them and what has not yet been described.
They have a better idea where opponents are in relation to where their characters are and how they move as the action happens. It helps them to strategize better and describe the actions and intentions of their characters.
All in all, even though I have been telling them about doing this for over a year, they are getting a better appreciation for the game and say that the simple "melee maps" make the game even more fun and interesting to them. I don't really mind that it took them this long to get the idea of this. Everything happens in it's own time.
Having them draw the action out also helps me as I am also better able to keep track of what I am describing to them. It is made even more important as I frequently involve a lot of randomness and on-the-spot invention.
So, if anyone out there who, like me, has kids who have pulled them back into the game, think about having them draw out the action as it happens. We call it making a melee map but you can just think of it as bringing the action in front of your eyes instead of just being in your mind.