Saturday, August 25, 2007

Candyland Diaries, or How I Learned to Tolerate Game Night

For Christmas 2005 Clay received, at my request, both Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. We wanted to establish a “Family Game Night”, and couldn’t wait until Clay was old enough to make it so (if it were just the two of us, it would be “Couples Game Night”, which has an entirely different connotation, in my opinion).

Clay delighted in his new games, and drawing cards and flipping the little spinning arrow were the coolest things to him. For me, Family Game Night turned into The MOST Boring Night of the Week because we were playing the MOST boring games on the planet. It's amazing how a 30 year time span will really color your perspective about an experience's entertainment value. I quickly hid the offending items, and Family Game Night was no more.

For his birthday this year, I was determined to find something age appropriate for him, but still interesting to me. If it was interesting to Mike, then that was a bonus as well. Not a requirement, mind you. I was more than happy to throw Mike into the black hole of Candyland with Clay, as long as I was safely out of its reach.

So I did some research. I like research, especially if it involves the internet. Fortunately for sites such as Amazon and Epinions, there was some good information out there. Scrabble Jr., Boggle Jr., and a particularly simple and fun game called ‘Zingo’ that was recommended by Clay’s preschool teacher, were all dispatched via Visa. And so far, they’re not uninteresting at all. Boggle Jr. is a little dull, but fortunately Clay likes to play it by himself. Scrabble Jr., I must say, is a lot of fun. I was never a big Scrabble player, so I was a little confused about how a 4 year old was going to do with it, but it’s been great! The board is already covered in simple words, and you draw tiles and take turns covering the letters on the words. The trick is, you have to cover the letters in word order. So for example, “FRUIT” has to have the “F” and “R” tiles covered before you can put the “U” down. Once he gets older, we can flip the board over and play the traditional way. It’s a veritable hat trick, a trifecta of fun, education and versatility. I approve.

Clay’s latest favorite is a Finding Nemo Go Fish card set, that for me is starting to border on the boring again. However, I am finding entertainment value in beating the pants off both Clay and his dad. Poor boys. Clay doesn’t quite get the strategy of Go Fish, and Mike desperately tries to give him a helping hand. “Don’t show us your cards, Clay!”, and he’ll quickly pick them up while saying, “Two Nemos, 1 Gill, and 3 Peaches.” Mike rolls his eyes, and I just know he’s got the fourth Peach in his hand, and is going to save it for Clay. At Mike’s round, he’ll ask me if I have any Peaches, hoping that Clay will pick up on the clue. At Clay’s turn, he’ll ask me if I have any Nemos instead. I’ll tell him to go fish, and he’ll draw a card exclaiming, “Just what I wanted! A Dory!” Ay yi yi. The next round I take his Dory. At the end of the game, I’ll have 9 sets, Mike will have 1 and Clay will have 2. I’m ruthless.

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