Games: Cooperative vs Competitive

I never liked games much as a kid. Most of them were boring with little strategy. The ones that did engage some strategy seemed designed to make one person feel awesome for winning and everyone else had be losers.

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Sums it up nicely. 

So, I avoided games for years. Still don’t like board games, although I’ve since discovered things like D&D that are technically a game but are cooperative and a lot more fun.

My husband has loved board games his whole life, so he really wants our little ones to love games with him. Then, he’ll finally have someone to play with.

He introduced DD1 to Candyland. Which, she promptly cheated at. She got bored quickly because she knew her colors and how to count to two, so DH started trying to make up new rules to help her learn strategy. For example, she could pick two cards instead of one and select whichever card she wanted to play.

This lasted for a little while, but she quickly grew bored of the game. So, he got her My Little Pony chutes and ladders. We all know how much DD1 likes MLP.

Again, her interest lasted for a short while. Her learning curve was well past counting to six (she’s always been precocious), but the real issue was when she started looking at the pictures. She stopped wanting to play the game because she didn’t think the ponies would do all the bad things they were depicted doing to get sent down the slide.

Santa brought her some more games for Christmas, most of which were not terribly interesting to her. She played Guess Who for a while, intrigued by the differences in hair color, costumes, and faces of the people. But after a few months, even that wore off.

Then I stumbled across a game called Hoot Owl Hoot.

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I’d never heard of it, but the premise was intriguing. A cooperative game where children play with their parent on the same side, and in the process, learn more advanced strategy instead of just basic numbers and colors.

I bought it, and it arrived in two days.

My daughter loved it! She would play three or four games of it before getting bored, and you could see her progress with strategy. When we lost, which we sometimes did depending on the difficulty level she chose, we’d say something like, “Those silly owls didn’t make it home before dawn.” Then, we’d set the game up to play again. No tears. Sometimes a little frustration, but never anger. Losing tended to make her just want to try again, with an adult’s help, of course.

This company makes other games as well, and she enjoys most of them. Hoot owl Hoot, though, is a favorite.

Doing a little research told me that she was behaving perfectly normal for a child of her age. Most kids aren’t ready to be okay with losing until they’re at least seven or eight years old. Even then, it can be a tough lesson.

I can see that she has the makings of enjoying games, especially games like Zelda. DH could probably even get her interested in role play games like D&D in a few years. But I think she might have too much of me in her to ever be willing to sit down and play Twilight Imperium.

 

twilightimperium
And this is the express version. The manual is longer than novels I’ve read.

Sorry, honey, she got half my DNA.

 

How about you, do you love board games? Hate them? Do your kids or grandkids like them? Any good ones for precocious preschoolers I should check out?

 

 

Practice, Practice, Practice

My daughter was recently in a dance recital.

She had begged to get to take a dance class, and knowing how much work she needs on her gross motor skills and coordination, we agreed to let her attend.

There is a huge recital at the end of the year that parents are required to attend. A four hour recital, but I digress…

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After watching her dress rehearsal, and that of the group before and after her, she came back out from back stage and proclaimed that she was the best the dancer out there. I smiled. It’s not uncommon for children her age to be quite full of themselves.

When I didn’t agree, she asked me directly if she was the best.

I told her “no”.

Harsh, maybe, but I then explained that while she’d done a good job of going to class and listening to the teacher, she hadn’t practiced outside of the class. Her friend, who happens to be a year older, had gone home and practiced every night. It showed.

I told her if she wanted to be really good, she’d have to practice more than once a week.

She was not happy with me. She argued that she didn’t have a partner to practice with at home.

I agreed with her, but told her she could still practice her parts. She could always use a stuffed animal as a stand-in for her partner, like her friend had.

My daughter was still skeptical, but as we talked some more, she decided that maybe next year she would practice more. Which means she wants a second year of dance…

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I know this sounds harsh, and this next bit may sound like a deluded parent, but DD1 is very bright. A lot of things have come very easily to her because of it. She’s not yet in kindergarten, but she’s reading at a 2nd-3rd grade level. Why? Because she wanted to read, was determined to read, and had taught herself to read by the time she started 4K. She was one of two children that could read at the end of her 4K year.

We encourage her love of reading, of course, but she’s the one that practiced and practiced. That pushed herself, especially when she saw some of the cool books out there that she wanted to read without help. She’s starting to eye up early chapter books as she saw a few of those that were My Little Pony.

TwilightSparkle
This one, to be exact. Which, of course, features Twilight Sparkle.

Her math skills have also came easily to her so far.

We practice a system of rewards for good behavior. She had six behavior points and knew she needed fifteen to get the treat she wanted. She was able to devise that she needed nine more behavior points to get the reward without any help from me.

Also, if you send her to her room and tell her to count to one-hundred before coming out, you must specify she must count by ones. Otherwise, she’ll count by fives or tens to get out faster.

So, yes, I’m glad she’s got drive and some natural gifts in these areas. I’m also not upset that she isn’t naturally gifted at dance. I’m glad she still loves dance and wants to be good at it. I want her to have to work for it, to have to practice for it.

I want her to see she won’t always be the best at something just by showing up. But I want her to have fun along the way.

She’s my Type A child. She’ll push herself hard, and I want her to learn that it’s okay to not always be the best. That it’s even okay to fail as long as she tried her best.

I bit of wisdom in there I should perhaps practice as well as preach…

 

How about you? Ever had something come easy? Something come hard that you really had to work for? Did the extra practice make you the best? Were you proud of your accomplishments even if you weren’t the best?

One Month

I’ve made it through one month of strength training.

Eleven sessions in four weeks. Not quite the three per week that is ideal, but not bad either. It’s a start to rebuilding the bone I lost when I had my little ones.

But now to stick with it.

See, I hate strength training. I don’t like the feel of heavy weights in my hands. I don’t enjoy the feel of a bar across my back or the burn in my legs as I squat. I just don’t.

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I hear “do something you love” all the time. I get that I’m much more likely to stick with an exercise I love.

Sadly, that’s not easy either. See,  I don’t love much exercise. Reading. Yup. Writing. Mostly. You’ll notice neither of those are exactly physical activities.

I loved tennis in my youth. There was something about chasing the little fuzzy ball that kept me entertained. I’d spend hours hitting the ball against a backboard to force my backhand to improve. I even found lighted courts so I could play at night.

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I learned to ignore the bats that came out to eat the bugs the lighted courts drew. I found ways to practice even in the winter. I loved the sport.

But, in my very early twenties, I learned I had a genetically bad back. The twisting motion from tennis was aggravating it, and I had to stop.

So I did.

Was years before I took up walking with my husband. We started small, but soon, we were traipsing around the neighborhood. Everyone knew us as “that couple we see walking”.

We’d literally walk for an hour or two every night after work. We’d talk about our day, hopes, wishes, dreams. Then, we started playing an RPG, and we started talking about characters.

That’s when the walks got really long.

We loved making characters. Seeing what they would do in different scenarios. It was a fabulously creative way to spend the evenings. We both dabbled with our writing, but neither of us had really taken it seriously at that point. After all, I was finishing graduate school while working full time, and after that, we were planning to start a family.

And start a family we did.

Complications in the pregnancy made us give up walking, but eventually, we had an amazing little one.

We just didn’t realize we’d never be able to have a grown-up conversation again. At least not while she was awake.

Once we were able to take walks again, talking about anything that did not directly involve her was impossible. She started talking at 11 months, and hasn’t stopped since.

little-girls-walking-773024_640

We bought and elliptical machine and treadmill and plopped them in front of a 60 inch TV. We thought we could watch a movie or catch up on a few shows while we worked out.

You already know how that went for us. DD1 was not tolerating being left upstairs while one of us went to the basement. Sure, we could’ve ignored her tears, but I get two hours with her a day. Less, if you include that part of that time I’m making dinner.

Gotta say, Sesame Street and My Little Ponies are NOT conducive to a strong workout. Even with an audio book playing, I still can’t concentrate on it with the sound and motion.

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For me, working out consistently for a month is an accomplishment. May not be for most other people. But I’m not them. I’m me. I have to compare me to me. And, I’m giving myself kudos for making it a month.

If I make it another month, I’m rewarding myself with a massage. I may not like exercise, but I can like the rewards that come with it.

 

How about you? Do you love exercise? Hate it? Find it boring? How do you motivate yourself to do it, especially if it’s not one of your favorite things? Any treats you give yourself, or maybe something else?

Why Disney Needs to Buy MLP

My oldest daughter loves My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Loves it. I have, unfortunately, seen every episode numerous times.

All in, it’s not that bad of a show. The characters are all ponies, so there are no body issue concerns. The main pony, Twilight Sparkle, is smart and dedicated to her studies. At no point in the show do they have gender issues. Most of the main characters are female, and they always solve their own problems. It shows the ups and downs of friendship, how things aren’t always perfect, and teaches lessons like inclusivity.

There’s even the occasional funny that only an adult would get.

So, why am I saying Disney needs to buy them?

Because I am tired of not being able to get my daughter the toys she wants.

mlp1

You want Elena of Avalor? Aisles are full of her. You want Moana? No problem. Every Disney princess back to Snow White in 1937 is available to be purchased at your local Target. Want something a little more exotic? Amazon or Toys R Us has your back.

Want a crystal empire My Little Pony that has been featured in a dozen episodes over several years? Nope.  Not for sale

Want Diamond Tiara, one of the “villains” in the show that starts out in Season One and is a key player throughout the rest of the six seasons (not sure about the seventh yet)? Well, they made her once, in one set. That now sells for $279.99 plus $19.99 shipping. I’ve been trying to find this pony for my daughter for two years at a reasonable price. Can’t find it.

mlp2
So not worth $300

Disney would not tolerate such nonsense. You’re willing to give them money for a pink pony with a tiara on her bottom? Here you go, they’ll make a couple hundred thousand. They would way rather take your money than not take your money.

Maybe this sounds like I’m being a little materialistic or driven by consumerism.  And it is, a little. But this is one toy my daughter loves to death. The only show she *has* to see. We gave up cable years ago, and I buy the new episodes for her on Amazon. Way cheaper than a cable subscription, it’s commercial free, and she can re-watch the episodes to her heart’s content.

I’ve learned that the moment I see a new MLP thing in the store, I buy it and hide it away for my daughter. If I don’t, it won’t be there at a price I’m willing to pay. I saw this set with three of the main characters in the show at Target precisely once for $14.99. It’s now selling for $35. But hey, it comes with free shipping!

mlp3
Whoever is selling a kid’s toy for more than twice the price, I hope karma finds you.

Again, if Disney saw this selling for $35, I’d expect them to up their price from $14.99 to $19.99 and then flood the shelves with it. Moana came out in 2016. I have no problem getting toys. Why can’t Hasbro up their game? Why do all of their toys have to be like Tickle Me Elmo when they even bother to make them?

I wish I could say it was one or two “special” sets that this happened with, but it’s over and over and over. Go ahead and try to find a Queen Chrysalis. At least they made her. A bunch of the other frequent characters are nowhere to be seen. Discord, Big Macintosh, the changelings in their new evolved state. Where are so many of the characters that make the show interesting?

If you’re Disney, on the other hand, they’ve got you covered. You want Olaf, a troll, or even a snow man made from a sneeze? Yup, you got it!

So, yes, I would like Disney to go ahead and take over the merchandising rights for My Little Pony. Let me be able to buy my daughter some of the characters she loves. I already know she’ll play with them until they are so mangy not even a bath in dish soap will save them. Yeah, that knowledge comes from experience. Who knew plastic could be forever permeated with child fingerprints?

 

How about you? Your child ever want a really hard to find toy? Maybe there’s something you want that you can’t seem to locate? Or perhaps your children are also My Little Pony fans and you can totally commiserate?