Wednesday, August 24, 2016

True Confessions: I Let My Kid Rig CandyLand

Look, good parenting means teaching your kids to follow the rules. I get that. It's about learning how to play fair and the art of winning and losing, but at some point along the way, after umpteen million games of CandyLand, I just stopped caring. I mean, it's CandyLand. It teaches kids colors and counting and how games work. If you're 4 years old, I get that it can seem pretty damn cool. 

But for an adult? It's awful. This is the Caillou of Board Games with it's obnoxious characters (Gramma Nut, Princess Lolly, Queen Frostine, Plumpy, and whatever the hell the rest are) and obnoxiously bright colors. There are literally no stakes. I mean, who gives a shit about getting to Candy Castle? What the hell is the point of the damn game?

So yeah, at a certain point, I stopped giving a shit. I know, I know. That makes me a bad parent, but it was also kind of amusing to watch Little Man figure out how to count cards so he got the orange one right off the bat and could take the Rainbow Bridge and get ahead. Then he moved up a notch and starting shuffling the deck himself, so he could put Queen Frostine in 'just the right place' so he could get a big jump on plodding old me way at the back. We don't have the new, fancy version with the spinner, so we're stuck with cards. He learned the recognize which of the cards was Plumpy (the guy way at the beginning of the board that will really screw you if you're on the verge of finding the Candy Mountain. Or the Candy Castle. Or whatever it is.) and freak out and try and obfuscate and switch cards.

I'm not completely useless. If he gets a card he doesn't want (though I noticed that Plumpy and the other disadvantageous cards have gone missing. Imagine that) he's gotta keep it and deal with the prospect that he might not win. 

You know what we need to get? Chutes and Ladders- and I know the modern version of Chutes and Ladders isn't much better than CandyLand, but my Grandma had an old school version of Snakes and Ladders. It was ancient- I don't know how ancient it was, but if she had found it in a bazaar shipped in from British India, before it well, became just India, it wouldn't have surprised me. She brought it with her every time she came to visit. And if you think getting Mr. Plumpy in CandyLand is a bad break, then you didn't know snakes like these. I remember there was one big long bugger that was at like space 98 on the board. Hit that and you went all the way back down to like space number 2. It was vicious. And it was fun.

Of course, in today's world, you can't get Snakes and Ladders. You have to get Chutes and Ladders. Slides and Ladders. Something ubiquitous and non-threatening and ladders. No, screw that. We need to get metal about this. SNAKES AND LADDERS, bitches. That's the game we need. There's a great quote from Terry Pratchett that I always think about when I think about Grandma and her old Snakes and Ladders board.
"Gods prefer simple, vicious games, where you Do Not Achieve Transcendence but Go Straight To Oblivion'; a key to the understanding all religion is that a god's idea of amusement is Snakes and Ladders with greased rungs."
Little Man's got a birthday coming up. I think I we need to make this happen.

So, yeah. I let Little Man rig CandyLand. I'm lazy, because he's four and CandyLand is relatively low-stakes in the grand scheme of things. When you're 4, you need your illusions. The rest of the world lies ahead of you and shit gets harder from here. CandyLand works when you're 4. But he's heading into preschool in about a week and that means it's time for Chutes- or, if I can find it somewhere online, Snakes and Ladders.

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