Thursday, April 21, 2011

Worst Game Ever (For a Four-Year-Old)

In general, I am not one of those mommies who wants to protect their child from everything. Flik is only four, so I still protect him from a lot of things, but hope that he'll learn a lot through his mis-steps and failures.  I stand back at the park and let him work things out with the other kids. I cringe, but usually try not to step in unless there is a particularly obnoxious kid terrorizing the entire park. When he gets to middle school, I will let him play dodge ball, and duck duck goose, and musical chairs - you know, all those games that are no longer "good" for kids. But the other day, I noticed that I am not totally immune to the modern-mommy syndrome. The classic behavior of those afflicted with modern-mommy syndrome occurs when a mommy sees something that was perfectly innocuous in her own childhood, but now appears to present a threat to the healthy development and well-being of her child. This has now happened to me.

Flik got a three-pack of game notepads last Christmas. Each one has a different kids game on it. The first pad had Tic-Tac-Toe. Flik is a huge fan of Tic-Tac-Toe, provided you follow his directions and "avoid" the squares he has deemed "off limits." The other two pads have gotten less attention... until recently. The second pad was dots. Still not interesting to Flik. But Flik is very into letters and words right now, including reading them, writing them, etc. So I'm guessing that when he pulled out the Hangman tablet with our Nanny not long ago, it looked like lots of fun. I'm assuming that our Nanny explained the game to him, because he now likes to "play" with me. I say "play" because although he does sometimes spell real words, he's also been known to just write random letters, in which case I don't get to look at the pad, I just call out random letters while he draws the hangman.

This is all well and good, except of course that Flik is going to be an engineer when he grows up. He wants to know how everything works. Everything. And I, wanting to encourage his curiosity and learning, do my best to answer all his questions about how stuff is made and how it works and where stuff comes from. That is, of course, until he starts asking questions about Hangman!


  • "Mommy, what is this thing anyway?" (Points to the gallows.)
  • "Mommy, why do we draw the man here?"
  • "Mommy, what does hangman mean?"

What the heck!!!! I'm sorry, but who thought of this game? And why are we still playing it in 2011? And WHY did I not think of any of this before I let him keep this notepad in his box of craft supplies?

I know, I know. I played hangman a jillion times as a kid and I am not scarred for life. In fact, I remember prolonging the game by adding turns to draw X marks for the man's eyes. But the kid is four, and I am not about to explain to him what a gallows is.

Unfortunately, he is now TOTALLY into this game. So I guess I am just going to just humor him until this phase passes and then snag that pad as fast as I can. Because seriously, people, who thinks that this is adorable?

5 comments:

Paulette said...

Um yeah....now that I think bout it...rest of clever comment taken by the forgetful fairy ;)

OakParkGirl said...

Ha, how did it never occur to me? I played it a ton as a kid, it was one of my favorite games! And I knew what it was from watching TV, but somehow as a kid it just never really seemed like a bad thing because in my world people didn't get hung (hanged?) anymore. Well, they do, but not in "my world". I just shrugged and figured, well, if you get enough wrong you're player is "dead" and your turn is over. Gah, now you're going to make me all paranoid about playing that :p

Bernadette said...

When we played hangman we already understood that we weren't literally hanging a man. It was a way to end the game not a life. This is a difficult concept to explain to a 4 year old.

I grew up watching westerns Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lone Ranger in which hanging was what happened to bad men and good men were always saved in the nick of time. But I also knew is was a TV show and the men who were hanged did not really die. What I learned was bad was punished good saved the day. TV was not reality.

For me this is one good reason for kid's to have pets. Pets die and it's a way for kids to begin grasping the concept of death. We had funerals for goldfish and buried them. Sometimes the funeral was a flush down the toilet.

Maybe it's time to put a new twist on the old game. Let's call it Walkman. You still draw the man but when he's complete he can walk away and your turn is over. Maybe it's time to watch some old fashion Westerns.

Tracey said...

Love the WalkMan idea! Here's another twist that I've played with second graders for years and they never tire of it. We play "Don't Let the Horse Out". Draw a stick horse, surround it with lines that represent a corral. It will look like a circle made out of dashes. Play the rest of the game in the same way, except when there is a letter called but it isn't in the word, you erase a "fence piece". Now most horses would bolt through the first opening in the "fence" but in all the years I've played this with kids, only one has ever pointed that out! The horse just can't leave unless the whole fence is gone:)

Tracey said...

Love the WalkMan idea! Here's another twist that I've played with second graders for years and they never tire of it. We play "Don't Let the Horse Out". Draw a stick horse, surround it with lines that represent a corral. It will look like a circle made out of dashes. Play the rest of the game in the same way, except when there is a letter called but it isn't in the word, you erase a "fence piece". Now most horses would bolt through the first opening in the "fence" but in all the years I've played this with kids, only one has ever pointed that out! The horse just can't leave unless the whole fence is gone:)

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