Friday, September 08, 2006

The Games People Play [CCR]

Isn’t it amazing all the gadgets and devices we have developed just to entertain our children? It seems that once you save money to get your child that desired device the electronics companies come out with something new just to keep your cash flowing out. My youngest son loves catching me on my computer so he can have me look up "cheat codes." These special codes allow him to do things on those games that overcome obstacles and make the game a breeze. His urgently wants to see the entire game and proclaim his victory. It has gotten so bad that I no longer purchase the games. I found a place to rent them fairly cheap because the boys quickly get to the end of the game and are no longer interested.

Most people realize that some of the "old fashioned" games actually challenge the intellect and include no intervening luck or chance. Games like chess or checkers actually require the ability to think ahead and plan each move. I guess that is how I knew that my Granddaddy Daily pretty much had me beat when it came to the thinking things through. Even to this day I know he could build things that I couldn’t even draw and he passed that trait on to my Dad. But, he also played a mean game of checkers.

In the evening Granddaddy would finish supper and take a seat in his favorite chair. It was then that he would entertain the thought of playing a game. I guess after all his years of labor it was nice to be able to show a grandchild how to think ahead and make good decisions. We would pull over a small table and get out the checker board. I can’t remember how we chose who got the red checkers and who got the black, but I do remember that red checkers made the first move. From the beginning Granddaddy was already calculating each move as the checkerboard glowed in the firelight from the fireplace.

Winning a game always makes someone feel good. But from what I remember the goal for Granddaddy wasn’t always winning. Maybe he enjoyed his form of teaching, but I can remember him telling me to look again before I made my fatal move. Sometimes he might even hint where to look. But, in the end the move was my decision to make and his next move quickly exposed whether I had thought ahead. I can still hear Granddaddy’s laugh when he was pleased with how the game was proceeding. It was a sort of chuckle. But he was never laughing at me. He was purely enjoying the game and how I was learning to think.

Yes, my sister and I had some of the more famous games. I can remember Susan’s Green Ghost game and Twister. If we only knew where the Green Ghost game was now, it is a collector’s item.. We had other famous games like Monopoly and Mouse Trap. But all of those games involved chance, a lucky roll of the dice or rotation of a spinner. Maybe we had a little strategy to work on, but one spat of good or bad luck could totally turn the game. Granddaddy’s checkers totally discarded the luck and boiled down to our ability to observe, analyze, and plan ahead. Plus you had to ascertain your opponent’s thought process and anticipate what you may miss.

The next time you hear that annoying electronic bleeping or nerve grinding synchronized music blaring from your television or computer monitor, pull out a checkerboard and teach a child to think. You will be spending precious time with your child and teaching the valuable ability to mull over a situation and derive a solution. But don’t laugh as hard as my Granddaddy. You might suffer the same bout of hiccups.