A wonderful place for a picnic
posted by: Guest Blogger
Momma writes at The Casual Perfectionist, and just like the name indicates, she is an admitted perfectionist, but she’s trying to be casual about it. She and her husband have a 3-year-old girl named Claire. Momma is a firm believer in the fact that if you haven’t laughed today, you weren’t really paying attention.
Our little girl turned three at the end of November. Finally she’d reached the magical age printed on most toys. She’d officially graduated into the 3+ realm. Awesome!
One of my aunts sent Claire a birthday present, and I was so excited when Claire ripped open the paper to reveal a board game! It was Chutes and Ladders™! I hadn’t thought about that game for years, and I was so happy to realize that Claire had finally reached the age where we could start exploring board games together.
As cliché as it sounds, it is amazing how quickly time flies. My little girl is ready for board games? Who knew!?
Knowing how much of a perfectionist I am, the realistic part of my brain issued the rest of my body a warning: Yes, she’s only three. Yes, she just turned three. Yes, I know to be patient with her. Still, I couldn’t wait! I love board games! I love Chutes and Ladders™! Or, at least I thought I did. Who doesn’t like Chutes and Ladders™? This is going to be so much fun!
Later that day, Claire begged to get out her new game. She didn’t have to ask twice, because I was excited to open up the box and check out the blast from my past. As we were setting it up, I was wondering how this would go. Would she want to take turns? She doesn’t usually have a problem taking turns, so we’ll be fine. She loves counting things, so jumping her little cardboard person on each square should be fun for her, too! And, there’s the number wheel! Who doesn’t love spinning the spinner-dealie!?
I got all the plastic parts punched out of the packaging grid, and I let Claire choose her person. She wanted to set up all the characters, so I let her do that. Once all the little blue plastic bases were assembled, we’d be ready to go!
And it all went downhill from there.
Taking turns wasn’t an issue. Spinning the wheel wasn’t an issue. She loved hopping her little cardboard person onto the different squares, counting out each number. It was the entire concept of the board game that was lost on Claire. She didn’t want to climb a fake ladder with her cute little person, even if it meant she was winning. She wanted to have a conversation with her cute little person, on that square over there! And, look! That looks like a great place for the other cute little cardboard people to join her little cardboard person for a picnic!
In a matter of less than three minutes, I’d lost all control of the board game. I tried to remind myself that it was just a game. The point of the game was to have fun, right? She was a having a great time until I started pestering her about following silly little rules! But, if I don’t teach her the importance of rules, who will? But…she’s three! It’s a game! Let it go! I couldn’t.
I had to find a way out of this. Has Chutes and Ladders™ always had 100 squares!? Wait. Who says we have to make it to the end for one of us to win? Yay! You won! Now, it’s time to play with something else! Rather than have my head explode, I’d found a way to wrap up the game, and she helped me dismantle the little cardboard people, and we went onto another activity.
I’d fully intended to carefully hide that wonderful game until she was older. Maybe when she was five? Yep, two more years would be enough time. But, I didn’t put it out of sight quickly enough. The next day, she not only remembered the wonderful game we’d played the day before, she could see it up on the shelf.
So, I got it down for her. I helped her get the box open, and then I told her to go ahead and set up the pieces while I finished up what I was doing at my desk. She’d remembered how to put the little plastic bases on, and she put the spinner where I had set it the day before.
And, before I could get over there and start ruining things again, she’d started her own game. She danced her little people around the board, involving them in all sorts of conversations. A couple of them were having a picnic over by the Chute at Number 49, because there was a little girl who had cookies to share right there! And, another little cute cardboard person was going to play with the puppy at the top of Ladder 42. And when they were all done with that, they all started dancing together with the other one in the middle of the board.
Every few minutes she’d spin the spinner and shout out the number. “Momma, Chutes and Ladders™ is fun!” Claire said with the enthusiasm that only a 3-year old can possess.
“I know! It is…isn’t it!?” And, I realized that it was.
There will be plenty of time for her to learn the real rules to Chutes & Ladders™. Right now, the important part is that she has fun and gets to use her imagination. And, I’m learning to let the silly little things go. When she’s older, I’ll introduce games where following the rules is the fun part, but we’re years from that point…and I’m okay with that.
In the meantime, I’m toying with the idea of adding another game to our collection. Doesn’t Candyland™ sound like a wonderful place for a picnic?