Thursday, April 12, 2007

Candy Land: Not Even Wrong Edition

Bud got the game Candy Land for Easter. He's never been a board game kid, but the time seemed right to try again and the game seemed manageable, so we broke it open on Sunday night. I explained the game to Bud - the premise, the rules, the goal - then we chose our playing pieces and we started to play.


And then I became The Candy Land Czar.

Bud drew color-coded cards and skipped his playing piece hither and yon around the board with nary a care about reaching the end as I barked out orders, re-directed him to move his playing piece to the "right" spot, and effectively stripped the game of any hint of joyful play.

The game ended with Bud winning, but I don't think he cared. In fact, I think he was probably relieved to have it behind him. As we packed the game back into the box I silently scolded myself. What had my goal been? Was I using the game as an opportunity to teach Bud the importance of following directions, taking turns, and paying attention? Or was I trying to have fun with him? The truth is, I was probably trying to do both - but while I may have had a modicum of success with the first goal, I think I failed miserably with the second. I vowed to do it differently next time - if I could ever get Bud to play with me again.

On Wednesday night, Bud agreed to give it another try. This time, I eased back on trying to micromanage his playing and, in response, he stepped up to meet the demands of the game. I taught him how to follow the cards to move forward to meet the established goal. He taught me that choosing a picture card that zips you back to the beginning is not a bad thing, because Look! Ice cream! , and that losing a turn on a Licorice Space is not really a penalty, but a treat - because, after all, it gives you twice as much time to enjoy the Twizzlers. He laughed with me when I accidentally moved his playing piece instead of my own, causing us both to lose track of our places on the board so badly that we had to go back several turns and start again. I indulged him in a jaunt off the Candy Land path to take a leisurely stroll through the Peppermint Forest.

Wednesday night's game took a lot longer than Sunday night's game. It was much less efficient. It was entirely nontraditional. It was a lot more fun. And - what do you know - we still made it to the end. We still reached our goal.

You can learn a lot from a board game.

16 comments:

Angie said...

This made me smile. :) I'm glad that you had a better time playing the second time around. I have been the Candyland Czar myself before -- it's not so fun.

for what it's worth said...

I have very competitive family members and game playing can be very intense. I got to the point where I simply refused to play with them. Now, with our own kids it is all about the time together...not the game. Have you played Uno with Bud? It was a great favourite in our free-time periods.

mcewen said...

Oh my...........and there was me thinking that Candyland was the SAME as Snakes and Ladders and therefore there was no point in buying another board game for everyone to hate! You use real sweeties too? [candy] Actually on second thoughts don't tell me, I think maybe ignorance might be bliss afterall. Does this mean that my citizenship will be cancelled?
Cheers

MOM-NOS said...

mcewen: Snakes & Ladders [translation = Chutes & Ladders] and Candy Land are entirely different games, but are similar in terms of the level of challenge. We don't use actual candy [translation = Bud has a great imagination]. :-)

March Day said...

Yikes! Posted this comment in response to a previous post. The first go around. I meant it to go here!

I think it is great that Bud was not concerned about following the rules and the winning/loosing aspect. It seems like many kids on the spectrum have trouble with deviating from the official rules and find it very difficult to lose.

TJ could care less about the winning/losing aspect when we play board games. His speech pathologist suggested that perhaps he has not yet grasped the concept of winning and that when he does, he may go through a stage of finding it difficult to lose.

I consider her an expert in autism, so perhaps she is right, but I like to think that TJ understands that being together and having fun is the point, and not the winning/losing aspect. We really have a great time when we play his favorite board games. Ultimately, that's what we want our kids to get out of it, right?

Thanks for the reminder about being the Czar. It is so not fun for anybody when I fall into that role.

Erin said...

At almost 4 years of age, Thomas 'should be' at the Candyland, Chutes and Ladders stage (or even a bit past it), but it isn't going to happen for him yet. My mother brought him Chutes and Ladders this week, and I had a small internal freak out. I kept thinking, oh, crap, now I've got to try and play it with him...but then I just let myself not do it.
The game is strewn around the house, which is probably the closest anyone here will come to having fun with it at this point.

Nicki Mann said...

Ooh, I love Candy Land! Its a hard game to resist, no matter how you end up playing it!

Kristen said...

See I keep thinking my 4 and a half year old son isn't ready for Candyland. We stick to Barnyard Bingo and Hungry Hungry Hippos because he has trouble with games where you need to move the peices around a game board, etc.

But thank you for your insightful story. I think I will give it another try....."Bud style"!

MOM-NOS said...

Erin and Kristen, just a reminder that Bud is seven-and-a-half, and is just now interested in/able to manage simple board games. In the past he's played with them just as you describe, Erin - by dismantling them and playing with the individual pieces.

Games he did like when he was younger and that were much easier for him to manage: Puppy Racers, Cranium Hullaballoo, Old MacDonald's Farm, Don't Break the Ice, Crocodile Dentist, Memory.

kristina said...

CandyLand turned out not so sweet for Charlie (inevitable sigh.....). It was "overplayed" with him in previous classrooms; he needed to learn how to do each step individually before tackling the whole thing. Consequently---after happy, early success with Lotto, Barnyard Bingo, and Farm Families----we put board games on indefinite hold. This past year we discovered all games Ravensburger and Charlie has been playing some very simple ones and rushing to pull them off the shelf.

Very sweet to read about Candy Land: NOS Edition!

Jordan said...

As a speech pathologist and a mom, I love this - it's a perfect illustration of a process-centered approach versus one that is product-centered (i.e., get to the end! do it right! see who won!). I'm sure your son ended up learning more that he will retain about Candyland during the 2nd go round because he was engaged in such a fun, joyful interaction with you. Way to go!

Steve said...

another cool game for the not-ready-for-board-game set is 'pop up pirate'. It's along the lines of crocodile dentist and don't break the ice - take one action and something crazy happens.

LAA and Family said...

If you can take the noise, Lucky Ducks is kind of a fun early game to try as well.

Samuel learned to play CandyLand at school. When we started playing at home we had the "fun" of including a two year old brother. We have varying degrees of participation and completion from Samuel. I'm glad when we get through the game without him scattering everyone's pieces in frustration.

LAA and Family said...

Forgot to mention..

We've had to put games on hold with Samuel as well. That was the case with The Memory Game. He just got too frustrated with it about two years ago, so we took a break from it. After a year or so we tried it again and he can tolerate it.

Daisy said...

We've modified several games for Amigo because of his visual impairment. He's fifteen, and we still play Monopoly Jr. now and then. He memorized the board when he was younger, and we use a much-enlarged die.

Club 166 said...

Thanks for reminding me that there's more than one way to play a game, and that sometimes it's much more fruitful when you play it your own way.