Sometimes a Game, Is More than Just a Game

Tonight, the house is full of young people.  My husband says he likes it that way.  Of course, I’m usually the one at home managing the crowd.  Some days I am happy to let them do whatever they please, which usually involves various screens.  Other days, I am more proactive about directing the action towards activities of an analog nature.  I guess you might say I was feeling ambitious today.

The day had been a gift from the weather gods – low 50s with sunshine in mid-November.  In the later afternoon, I kicked all the kids out to enjoy the final hours of light.  Lately they are more likely to spy on one another than play together, but by the time I got down the block to the playground with the wee one, the older kids and their friends were deep into some game involving a lot of running and a ball wildly hurling about.  While the activity was punctuated by my kids loudly accusing one another of breaking the rules, for the most part, everyone was getting along, moving their bodies, and enjoying the time outdoors.

Then it was back to the house with cries of, “What’s for dinner?” Followed by, “When will dinner be ready?”  We have a new drawing game in the house, so suggested the kids teach their friends how to play and give it a go while they were waiting.  While I heard more sibling feuding during the setup, once the game was underway, everyone was having a good time and I was able to step back and find a moment to finish cooking and reflect on what was going on at our kitchen table.

Sketch It! is a lot like Pictionary in that it challenges players to quickly draw objects and then other players then have to guess what was drawn.  It’s different in that you form teams in each round, rather than maintaining a single team for the entire game.  This perpetuates an alone-together gaming mentality–it’s every person for themself, but each person’s success is based on the actions of others.  Seems like an apt metaphor for life.

One thing I found really interesting about this activity from an art education standpoint was the simple fact that all the kids (11-13 years old) were drawing.   This is a time, the literature tells us, when many children give up drawing for fear that they aren’t good enough at it to bother.  As a result, I felt myself cringe a little when I heard them gang up on someone whose image wasn’t clear enough to convey the prompt.  However, even in this moments of relatively harsh criticism, they seemed to be enjoying  the challenge.  Best of all, they were having a good time together, proving to me, and to themselves, that they can get along, when they want to.

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