“Candy Land is lame.”
Two weeks ago a friend–a mom of a 4 year old–posted this on Facebook. And almost instinctively I replied, “You know, it really is.”
Wait, how could this be? As a kid I loved Candy Land. I can remember playing Candy Land for hours. I couldn’t wait for the Bug (my son) to get older so he could learn to play. And now it’s lame?
Sadly, it is. And playing the game is pure torture. Players alternate drawing color-coded cards and moving their plastic gingerbread tokens to the next square of the same color, passing the “peppermint forest and ice cream sea along the way.” Success in the game requires absolutely no skill. One reviewer on Amazon writes, “The game is based on luck (or chance or divine intervention or however you want to characterize it), which means it is a great equalizer. This is a game where a kid has the same chance of winning as their parents, older siblings, grandparents, babysitters or whoever.”
And that, ultimately is why the game is lame. There are no dice to roll; no spinners to spin; no strategy to develop in order to increase one’s chances of winning. Players simply take turns drawing cards and moving their tokens along the path to the Candy Castle. Sure, players could stumble on the path and find themselves stuck in a molasses pit. But for the most part, the game provides little excitement…for adults.
For kids, the game is anything but lame. For kids, the game is incredibly exciting. Ever watch a kid’s face as they draw the card needed to move them the necessary spaces to the Candy Castle? It’s an explosion of joy mixed with a sense of accomplishment laced with hint of pride. And inevitably, they’ll look at you, a smile across their face, and say, “Let’s play again!” And you’ll say yes.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the almost 4 years I’ve been a dad it’s that often times you end up doing a lot things that you’d really prefer not to do. But you do them because you realize spending time with your kids is worth it–because you realize that years down the road when the kids are headed off to college or are getting married that these are the moments you’ll remember most.
There is, I think, a tendency with some parents to sit back and simply watch their children play, rather than play with their children. I am certainly guilty of this. Many times, I find myself sitting on the couch while my kids are on the floor, playing. And it’s easy to rationalize this behavior: they’re playing so well together; they’re learning how to share with each other; I’m getting up to feed the dog in a minute; my knee hurts; my back hurts; I’m tired.
But the truth is, we have to get on the floor and see the world from our kids’ perspective. Not because we want to but because our kids need us to. It’s why we play Candy Land, as lame as it might be. We need to be reminded how the simplest activities often ignite the most joy and happiness from our kids. Many of us are incredibly busy. Between being at the office; commuting back and forth to work; eating dinner; bath time, story time, and bedtime, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of life and forget how to just enjoy life.
Now, Chutes-’n-Ladders? Don’t get me started on that game. That game is REALLY lame.