Toys, Sesame Street, and Missing Match-Ups

I cannot remember having a favorite toy growing up. I do remember being addicted to board games. I loved the challenge, I loved the strategy, and I loved the competition. Recently my sister reminded me of one of my favorite and probably earliest games. It was a Sesame Street game called: Missing Match-Ups. The best way to sum it up was that it was the Sesame Street version of memory.

I loved it. I imagine I begged my entire family to play with me. They probably did just so I would stop asking. I remember being very good, and I have a hunch they were not letting me win. I never wanted that, I always wanted to win on my own merit.

I do not know if my love of games grew out of my childhood. What I remember most was that it was a time my family was together. Often my mom did not join us, but I definitely remember the many times that she did. I wonder today how often families turn off the television, their phones, and iPads and sit around a table with food and games and connect with each other (whether your family is young or old). It was a time I always cherished as it seemed that we each gave each other the presence of now.

Do you have a favorite childhood game?

“Worry about yourself”

I cannot get this little girl out of my mind. “Worry about yourself.” That is her tagline. She makes me think of me as a little girl. I was a bossy little one. My sister can attest to that. I do not know where I learned to be bossy or where it came from. The only thing I can think of is that I was the youngest. My sister and brother are four and six years older than me. I wanted so badly to be included in their world. I wanted to know that I belonged and that I mattered.

Maybe my way of trying to fit into their life was to learn things as quickly as possible so they could never tell me that I was “too young” to play or be involved in their world. That meant I tried to learn board games quickly and early in my life, and it meant I was competitive. I wanted to be included, and I hoped that if I was good, competitive, and I won, then just maybe they would want to play with me. I hoped it would make them want to try to beat me next time. Sometimes I think my deliberate actions meant they did not want to play with me in the future. Live and learn, right?

When I found the below video, I could not help but laugh and laugh. I love the sassy nature of this girl. She reminds me of a young version of myself. She wants so badly to figure it out on her own, without help, and then tell her dad to drive. That was me. Enjoy, “Worry about yourself.”

Games, Linchpin, and no more Candyland

I just finished reading “Linchpin” by Seth Godin. There are so many amazing nuggets in this book. I could write a very long blog about all the ideas I gained from this book, but one in particular really has me thinking. I love playing board games. Growing up it was one of the few things I remember we did as a family. We did not go on vacations, to sporting events, movies, etc. So playing board games is what I remember as “family time.” Games were also how I became competitive. As the youngest, I often felt left out. As the baby of the family, I thought that if I learned each and every game, and could even win ones that maybe other members in my family would make sure I was included and got to play. I did not want them to have to hold my hand and help me along. I wanted to play and win on my own merits and skills.

I have never thought anything of the actual games we played or what they were teaching me. When I was younger we played Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Memory, and eventually moved on to Monopoly, Tripoly, Poker, Parcheesi, Trivial Pursuit, and Yahtzee. I have not played any of these in years. Most recently I have played Cranium, Tripoly, and my favorite is Taboo. I enjoyed the competition, the family time, and the laughter and fun. So when I read this section in “Linchpin” it made me rethink all the games of my past, and quite frankly how I would want to approach games with my family in the future.

“Author Steven Johnson hates the board game Candyland and all board games like it. I hate them even more than he does.

‘I realize that games of pure chance have a long history, but that doesn’t make them any less moronic,’ he writes. He’s how Candyland is played: You pick a card and do what it says. Repeat.

This is early training in agenda following. Indoctrination in obedience. We teach kids that the best way to win is to mindlessly pick cards, follow instructions, and wait for it all to turn out okay.

Sheesh. What a disaster.

My decree: If you own a copy, burn it. Replace it with Cosmic Encounters or chess or a big box filled with wooden blocks. Please don’t look at school or even board games the same way again. If they’re teaching your kids or future employees to be map readers and agenda followers, make them stop.” Page 193

To give you more context, this section in Godin’s book discusses not being a cog that just takes orders and follows direction, but to become someone who creates their own map and paves their own way. I wonder what games help kids to create their own map. I am still processing and thinking about what those games could be. Any ideas?

Motorcycles, Peanut Butter, and Laughter

This Sunday is Father’s Day. I always am a bit nostalgic around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. In some ways it is just another day that passes, but it also always reminds me of all that I miss about my mom and dad. My father and I did not always have the best relationship. In what would be his final years, he struggled a lot and I often felt like the parent in the relationship. There are, however, some good things I do remember about him.

He liked motorcycles, dogs, and peanut butter. He also liked to play.

We played board games together as a family quite often. I think what I loved about playing games most was that I had his undivided attention. Maybe that is a clue into why I tried so hard to learn the rules to the adult games (my brother and sister were older) so I could play any game in our closet and thus not ever be left out. I also remember when I would find him relaxing in his recliner in the family room. He was usually reading National Geographic, or a book or magazine about cars. Growing up his father at one point had a used car lot, and after being exposed to different kinds of cars, he fell in love. When I was in elementary school, I would come bug him, and he would pull out circle word searches, or other word mind games to play together. I would lean over his shoulder while he sat in the recliner to help with finding words. I loved having that 1:1 time with him.

While we did not go on family vacations (because we could not afford it) we did often go camping. My dad was involved in Boy Scouts because of my brother, and we many times went on family campouts with other Boy Scout families. Even though my sister and I were often the only girls, we always had fun and learned a lot. I miss those days. My dad also liked to go on motorcycle rides. Somehow my sister got to go more often. Maybe it was because she was older, or maybe because she was more relaxed on the bike. (I often would forget which way you were supposed to lean and I think that would sometimes freak him out). He loved being out on his bike.

What I miss most about my dad was when he laughed. If he thought something was funny enough, his entire body would shake and his eyes would start to water. Once he started laughing like this, he usually could not stop. I loved seeing his entire body experience the joy of what he found funny. The last movie I saw with him was the Cameron Diaz movie, “There’s Something about Mary.” I had been visiting him over Christmas and we watched it the night before I headed back to college. I remember how hard he was laughing and thus how often the tears were coming out. He died a few weeks later. I never knew that would be the last time I would see him.

Thank you, dad, for the motorcycle rides, and the reminder that I need to play more. It is not always easy, but it is important. We all need to laugh so hard we cry.

About To Kick Your Butt

For those of you that know me well, I am insanely competitive. I think it comes from being the youngest child of three. My brother is 6 years older and my sister is 4 years older than me. So as I grew up, I had to hold my own if I wanted to stay up late or if I wanted to be part of game nights when I was fairly young. To overcompensate I would try as hard as I could to learn the rules of the game, and figure out a competitive edge so that I could win. My thought was that if I could win, then I would be allowed to stay up and play with the rest of my family.

What I did not know was that by growing up and “trying” so hard to be a participant would mean that my competitive streak would not leave me. Yes, I admit it, I am still competitive while playing board games. I love Taboo, Cranium, and other similar type games. I am the one that yells and hollers and lets my mind go as fast as it can to participate and be part of the game. I think Jimmy Fallon must be the youngest, because he plays the same way on his show. If you have not watched him play games with his guests, watch a few shows and you will see what I mean.

So if you have the opportunity to play a game with me in the future, you now know in advance that I am competitive. I am still a kid at heart, and sorry in advance for being so overzealous about kicking your butt!

ready to kick some butt (who knows why I am wearing a backpack)…

By the way, don’t you love the kitchen I grew up in with the yellow stove? We also had an olive-green refrigerator! Thank you 1970’s!