playing games



Manufacturer Description

Bravo, Encore! Kids love to get into the act, and this charades game is made especially to put your youngster in the spotlight! In this game, every player gets in the act on every turn, so it’s ideal for home or school play. And there is no reading required, so little ones can play without help from Mommy or teacher. Encourage creativity and communication skills while having active fun. It’s a game the whole family can play– and enjoy …

From hopping like bunnies to flying like airplanes, kids take turns acting and guessing in this creative game for budding young stars.


So Katie and Brooke and I played a game together after dinner last night.

OK, wait.

Indulge me, won’t you? I’d like to say that again.

So Katie and Brooke and I played a game together after dinner last night.

For six years I’ve been wanting to say that. Did it sound casual? All cool and collected? Like, you know, hey, look at us all playin games, yo – just like always. Ok, skip the ‘yo’, I’ll admit that was desperate overkill.

But we played a game together. Now this is not to say that we haven’t played games before. But this, my friends was very, very different.

The games we’d played together before were modified to within an inch of their lives. We watered them down and contorted them in order to make them accessible to a point where it was sometimes tough to recognize the original game. Katie would play along, counting the minutes until the ‘fun’ was over and I would remain on edge, trying to pretend that any one of us, most of all Brooke, was enjoying the experience.

But tonight – tonight we quite simply played a game. We played Kids on Stage.

I couldn’t get the goofy grin off of my face as Brooke picked cards, made animal sounds, pantomimed ‘dancing’ and counted her way (sometimes backwards) along the path to the finish.

Some of her charades were spot on. There was no way to miss her nearly perfect impression of a rabbit. (Hey, no one said I had to deliver impartial reviews.) Some were a little far afield of their target.

On her turn she pulled a card with a photo of a ‘wristwatch’ on it. She proceeded to act it out by folding her arms over her head, tilting her face to one side and smiling. Hmm. Katie guessed a hat; I threw out a picture frame. When she revealed the card, Katie delivered her review. “Well, that was unique” – delivered with a delicately raised eyebrow. Sisterly banter.

We had a few stops and starts. We lost the thread a couple of times. Brooke got confused once or twice. Her pantomimes were often all her own. But we played the game.

And we had fun.

I was overcome with the moment. I began to reminisce about playing the same game with Katie when she was little. I was always so amazed at how good she was at it. Gosh, we got Kids On Stage when we lived in the old house in Connecticut.

The involuntary calculator started doing its work. We left that house when the kids were one and three. Katie couldn’t have been more than two and a half when we played that game. And she was good at it. My eyes found their way to the side of the box, aiding and abetting the calculator. Ages three and up. The commentator in my head joined in. God, I hate the commentator. Who called him anyway?

You’re all excited that your kid is playing a game made for three year olds. She’s six.

He startled me.

I hesitated for just a beat and then I squashed him. I wouldn’t give him air.

Damned straight I’m excited. As a matter of fact I’m down right ecstatic, you son of a btch. My kid has fought for every skill she has. Every damned one of them. And no one – not the calculator nor my complicit eyes nor the commentator – can take any of that away from her.

It’s staggering just how many different skills she has had to painstakingly learn to make this possible. From understanding that her game token is representative of her to manipulating her fingers to flick the spinner. From counting out the spaces on the board to taking turns. From waiting to not yelling to conceptualizing the incredibly complex process of acting out a picture. It’s an exhausting list to be sure . Every one of those skills – every one – has taken countless hours to master.

I thought back to her very first social pragmatics group in pre-school where they played ‘guess what’s behind my back’ every day for a year. I thought back to watching those awful videos of those sessions in the beginning, when she just couldn’t hold her own in the group – when they thought that perhaps she just wasn’t ready for it (but decided to gently push her forward).

I thought back to her Kids Connections group earlier this year when they played a modified version of Candy Land on a board the social skills teacher had fashioned out of poster board . Back to when that same teacher sent her home with a homemade board of her own so that we could practice and she would be able to play with the other kids.

I thought back to hours upon hours of OT so that she could build the strength to hold a crayon on her own. The squeeze bottles of water that we brought with us to Nantucket so she could ‘water the flowers’ and unwittingly build her endurance. The pennies we picked up off tables and the toothpicks we stuck into cheese. All leading to tiny fingers poised to spin that damned spinner like nobody’s business.

I thought back to where she was when I was where my friend is now. I heard the words of her first teacher, as she shook her head sadly, “She has absolutely no functional play skills.”

I watched Brooke smiling from ear to ear as Katie and I excitedly shouted out, “You’re jumping rope!” and I told the commentator where he and his band of friends could take their wet blanket. I folded them all back down deep, where they’ll stay for as long as I can keep them penned in.

And we celebrated.

Last night we played a game.

17 thoughts on “playing games

  1. What a beautiful post, a real moment to treasure. Our kids have to fight so hard for their skills, but when they get it how our hearts sing.

    We’ve got kiddie charades too, I think I’m going to pull it out this week. We’re supposed to be using games to encourage things like taking turns, following rules, and the ever-popular losing gracefully (let’s just say the road to that one is a bit long). I tend to avoid it because Maya hates it and it just creates stress for everyone, telling myself that she’s already getting so many therapies during the day that home needs to be her safe place, but still, we should be trying harder. Maybe charades is one that will work. Even if she doesn’t do the “round the board” bit, just the acting part can only help and she does love that part, this girl the experts said might never grasp symbolic play. (Stuff it where the sun don’t shine Mr. Commentator.)

    So you shout Brooke’s achievements to the skies – she’s earned it. And so have you.

  2. You sure started Grammy’s day off with happy tears. She’s come so far and I’m so proud of all of you.

  3. That commentator? The ages 3 and up guy? I know him. He’s killed the fun out of many, many of my students, and it takes me a full year sometimes to pour it back into them.

    Everybody needs to play charades. Everybody.

    And you know what? In their own way. Okay, so you’re an interesting wristwatch.


    That’s who I want in my class.

    The kid who thinks outside the box.

    Aw, honey. You all played a game.

  4. Damn right she played the game. First thing you ALWAYS do when you get a new game/toy is get a big Sharpie and cross out the “For Ages ______” part. That part is TFBS.

  5. “Last night we played a game.” And you ALL won, big time! 🙂
    Um, I totally got the wristwatch thing. But I’m weird that way. 😉

  6. Way to go, Brooke! That is huge! It also took Nigel many years of hard work to be able to play a game like that. Definitely something to be celebrated! xoxo

  7. I am so excited for you! I know exactly how you feel – my daughter would NOT play a game because it was just too stressful. Imagine how I felt when a few months ago our family sat down on a rainy day and played a full game of monopoly!!! I still can’t believe it. My daughter, Chloe, is now 10 and I am so proud of her 🙂 Brooke sounds so much like Chloe when she was her age. Beautiful little girls…

  8. When you were three years old I asked you if what you had done was the best that you could do and as only Jessica could say, you replied, that you were “doing it better than you could”. It looks like Brooke is “doing it better than she could”, just like her mommy.
    All the work with Brooke is paying off, solid step by solid step.
    How fortunate she is to have her wonderful little family to love and encourage her.

  9. So happy! I thought of you as my daughter’s OT introduced us to this: –it’s a favorite activity in our household, and made me think of Brooke and her stickering. Even better, though, is that both my kids love doing it. We’re a few steps behind you as it’s more paralell than interactive, but, as usual, you show the light….

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