Aug 06, 2012 0 Share

Game Changers


Game pieces showing pictures in story.
Photo by Julie van der Poel

I really thought this week’s column was going to write itself. I purchased a new game for family game night, and even though I’ve already written one column about the games my family frequently plays after dinner, I was convinced the newest addition to the collection was going to be great fodder for a column. The game I purchased, Tell Tale, is a storytelling game where players create a tale based on cards with various pictures on them. As I’m paying for the game at the toy store, I’m thinking of how great it’s going to be to have Cameron create a story and witness him flex his conversational muscles. I’m mentally writing my column about this wonderful parental experience I’m about to have. Yeah well, this is not that column I started in my head at the checkout counter. That wonderful moment I imagined at the dinner table didn’t quite happen according to plan.

Round One of the game seemed promising. We each received four cards, and arranged the cards as we saw fit, and each told a tale based on our own cards. Cameron seemed fine with this format. For Round Two, I had the clever idea to mix up the format a bit, and suggested we build a story together. Each of us played a card, and added to the previous player’s story with our own contribution. This is where things took a turn for the worse. Cameron found very little humor in our plot twists, and became visibly upset by the silliness of it all. When we started Round Three using this “build a story together” format, I thought Cameron’s head might explode. He was so upset, I had to go into my “calm Cameron down” mode, and give him the opportunity to retell the story from the beginning, without input from anyone else. I hadn’t realized how upsetting it would be for Cameron to have a plot twist wreck his plan for his next turn.

These moments in parenting, when I’m unexpectedly confronted with Cameron’s challenges, can catch me off-guard. I’m always looking for signs that Cameron isn’t nearly as impaired as his testing indicates, and am glad to say I often find those signs. But when something like this low frustration tolerance rears its head when I least expect it, I find it very deflating. I was so sure the Cameron was going to exhibit the ability to build a story and articulate his thoughts, I hadn’t considered what would happen if he couldn’t. But, I suppose these moments of the having the wind in the sails deflate a bit are just as important as the joyful moments I am ever hopeful for. These less than joyful moments keep me on my toes. They remind me that I can’t assume anything when it comes to Cameron’s future. Just because Cameron can balance his checkbook and use public transportation doesn’t mean he’s ready for anything the world throws at him. But there is a silver lining: I realize it’s been a long time since I’ve had that sinking feeling in my stomach that coincides with the less than joyful moments. So I realize these gut-wrenching moments are fewer and farther between, and that gets the wind puffing up those sails again.