Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Calculated Fun

Pardon the length; it’s my first run back after the VBS hiatus!

We have a budding game designer in our midst. Perhaps you remember the real-life Candy Land episode I regaled you with earlier this year? Peanuts compared to the minute detail and thought put into Calculator, the youngest child’s newest foray into family fun.

“Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited”oh, wait…sorry, wrong disclaimer.

Here it is:
Any references to Calculator are at the permission and discretion of the youngest child. Please do not market or sell Calculator, as it is the intellectual property of my SIX YEAR-OLD!
***That is all***

So, anyway, for days the youngest child was scurrying around, ferreting construction paper and markers, asking how to spell words and then looking disheartened when she found out she was wrong. She would then think of a new word, brighten up and move on.

She clipped little pieces of paper, used tape, drew pictures and addressed notecards. A pile of flotsam and jetsam gradually increased on the craft room table. Finally, she declared that Calculator was ready for a grand unveiling.

“Everyone in the family must meet me in this room right now to play Calculator!” she declared with all the pomp of a circus ringmaster.

Well, okay. I must admit my curiosity was piqued by the previous days’ enigmatic behavior.

We all assembled in the craft room and started to sit down.

“STOP! Everyone has a name card. You have to sit by your card,” she commanded. This was her moment. All eyes were on her and everyone sat where she told us to sit, in front of the pieces of construction paper bearing our names.

“Flip these over and put them in front of you,” she said, indicating brown notecards that had each of our names on them. They were face-up but we were to place them face down.

In the center of the table was a pink sheet of construction paper with various sets of dashes drawn in sharpie, separated by slashes. It resembled a long, broken-up Hangman puzzle, sans gallows.

“When you think you know a letter in one of the words, raise your hand and hold your paper up in the air,” she said, gesturing to a diagram on the wall that showed us what to do in case we forgot.

“If it is not your turn and you raise your hand, you get an ‘X’ on your paper. If you raise your hand but not your paper, you get an ‘X’ on your paper. I will be going around in a circle making ‘X’ marks if you do anything wrong.”

We had been duly warned!

“If you answer a letter right, you will get a heart on your card. The person with the most hearts will win. If you think you know all of the words on the paper, flip your name card over (the brown notecard) and raise your hand with your paper. If you are right, you get as many hearts as letters. If you are wrong you are automatically disqualified.”


“Hey,” you may be saying. “Why is this game called Calculator?”

I’ll tell you.

The child had been figuring out what words she could spell using numbers on the calculator. She even made herself a cheat sheet with all of the words and the corresponding numbers. Yup, that is what the blanks on the pink sheet represented.

“I am thinking of a number, what is it?” she asked us, without offering a range.

“Two,” I said.


“Four,” said the oldest.


“Three!” exclaimed the middle child.


“Seven,” said my hubby.

“Oh, I forgot,” she said. “It was two. Mommy, you go first.”


So, I raised my hand with the paper and guessed the letters for the word “hello”, the quintessential calculator word.

“Yes! You get hearts!”

I was very excited.

We worked around in a circle, the youngest child presiding over the game from a few steps up on the staircase. Someone else guessed “hi” and she got serious.

“Hello and hi were the two basics, now is the hard part.”

After the middle child hid her card to keep from getting another ‘X’, the game master announced loudly:

“I am making a new rule! If you try to hide your card you are automatically disqualified!”

Mercy is for the weak.

“Oh,” she said a minute later. “Also, one of the words is a symbol.”


Despite two tries to get automatically disqualified, the oldest child worked until she deciphered SOS. The symbol mentioned previously.

I wound up winning the whole shebang, scoring more hearts than the rest and dominating the pack—you will note that I was dusted in live Candy Land so I didn’t feel too much remorse.

“How fun, thanks for putting that together for us,” I said, starting to get up.

Not so fast. “Now it’s time for prizes and congratulations,” she said. “I will hand out the prizes and the winner will give me my congratulations.”

Of course, she had everything planned out. She took a few minutes to gather her prizes and jotted down a few words and then turned to face us.

“The first place winner is…Mommy!!!!!”

I bowed and air-kissed my way to the stairs to accept my prize. It was then that the genius of this six year-old morphed a little into the evil genius of the six year-old. Not so evil that you would say E-Vil, as in the Fru-its of the Dev-il, but pretty impressive nonetheless.

My prize was two stuffed bears topped with a sign that read (and I am writing this grammatically correctly for ease of reading. Please see the photo for the original message):

“You know how you want me to give away two toys? :)"

Yup, I did. Earlier in the week as we were weeding out stuff, I asked that she at least donate two stuffed animals and we would go from there.

She had me. I was impressed and a little under matched. I still wonder if this was opportunity at work or if the whole thing was devised to keep these bears in the house. I guess the world will never know.

Everyone received a prize and then I had to come up and announce her certificate of congratulations for a game well-created. Not too modest, is she? She also had made each of us ribbons with a blue circle and blue and yellow ribbons hanging down. So festive and thorough.

I will continue to look forward to her “family games” that are quickly becoming some of my favorite times!


--David said...

Hahaha! This is one of the funniest things I have ever read! I love that she created a certificate for herself for inventing the game! Genius.

Emily said...

Thanks David! She is quite the funny one. I am always surprised by what is cooked up in her six year-old brain. I am glad we get to be part of it!

Mrs. Plunkett said...

This is awesome. I love it, and could picture the whole thing in my head as I read along. What a great family game night.

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