Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Last Easter

Today one of the children at work invited, consecutively, four different staff persons to a game of memory. Each of the first three staff persons he played against obviously was much better at the game than he. Then he asked me to play. Now, as a rule, when playing games with children, I play to lose. I think it helps build the child’s self esteem. And besides, winning always leaves a sour taste in my mouth, anyway.

It kind of bothered me that no other staff person had this attitude, especially since this particular boy has recently begun showing signs of low self-esteem (e.g. smacking himself on the head and saying “I’m no good at this,” “I’m so stupid” and “You don’t like me”). He also clearly becomes very upset when he’s losing a game. After three sound defeats, he had trepidations about asking me to play against him. He began by trying to rig the game, by looking at all the tiles as he put them out for gameplay. When I told him this would give him an unfair advantage, he said “But what if you win?” And I reassured him I have a very poor memory. He was delighted to win against me.

Non-competitive games are more fun. And the best games are the kind where players help each other out.

Last Easter, Brandon’s next door neighbors invited all the church people to their house for a little party. It was an interesting mix of people: a couple of lively, precocious little girls from the broken home two doors down; a younger girl who seemed to have some developmental disabilities; her working class single mother; an older man who’s not quite “all there” (and who apparently molested a child many years ago); the host couple (newlyweds/Whitworth grads); me, Brandon, and a few other recent college grads from the ministry house where Brandon lived.

It wasn’t much of a party, but at one point we broke out the Bible Pictionary. In case you’ve never played, it must be pointed out that the Bible Pictionary words are almost all either ridiculously simple and easy, or else so obscure no one would ever guess them, even if the person reading the card could figure out how to depict the word, which many times they have never even heard of.

So, because it’s kind of a lame game, we played it with everyone on a single team, moving one piece along the board. We considered it a challenge to “win” against the makers of the game, all working together to see how many of the obscure words we could guess, seeing it through to the finish line. It was fun. It was really fun. It was just one of those wacky, creative moments, where people forget about social interaction as such, laughing and focused on a silly, but stimulating goal. Uh … yeah. I guess I’m trying to wax eloquent or something, and failing. I don’t know how to describe that kind of moment. It seems like there was a lot of that kind of thing with the original Wilshire Pres. youth group. I wonder how much of that was just because of Deng’s energy … I suppose the world will never know …


BenjyWay said...

Wow! I would like to meet your co-workers so I could slap each of them soundly in the forehead and point out that they are simply stupid, no good, and dislike needy children.
Perhaps it's just that no one ever lost to them on purpose when they were growing up, but considering that they actually work among this little boy on a daily basis, I cannot find any excuse for all three of them to have behaved like competitive, 12-year-old boys.
Did you scold them (or, better yet, slap them in the forehead)?

As for your comment about cooperative games, I think that I know what you're talking about (though it's impossible to tell, since I wasn't there), and I think that it is a similar, if not identical, feeling to what is commonly referred to (often with a nearly insulting tone) "male bonding." Well, that's my two cents.

Bianca said...

Two favorite thoughts:

1) "Non-competitive games are more fun. And the best games are the kind where players help each other out."

Totally agree. (I think you and I would have a hard time playing Risk against each other!)

2)"It wasn’t much of a party, but at one point we broke out the Bible Pictionary."

Never knew that Bible Pictionary could make a party! Now I know... :D