Candyland Lessons

In September of 1997, when I was 23 years old (woah...), I started my first Child Life Internship on the Neuroscience Unit at Boston Children's Hospital.  To begin, my job was to simply see what it was like to be a child in the hospital.  Meet the kids, play with them, get a feel for their experience...

I remember spending a morning with one child playing Candyland.  Opening the box.  Setting up the game.  "What are these picture cards?"  "This game has changed since I was a kid..."  "No", their mother told me.  "They have always been part of the game..."  Hmmm.

I went home that night and called my mom.  "When I was little and we played Candyland," - for I do remember playing Candyland. a lot. - "were there picture cards that jumped you forward and backward on the board?"

My mom was quiet for a moment.  And then laughed.  Yes, there were evidently picture card even way back in the seventies.  My mother took them out of our game and hid them.  They made the game last way too long, she told me.  As an early twenty-something, I was a little appalled. 

Fast forward fifteen years or so.  Ollie has finally discovered (and loves) Candyland.  It is out on our living room floor more often than not.  And those picture cards drive me nuts.  You see, my almost six year old is not a gracious loser.  And those picture cards?  They incite crying, whining, and board clearing swipes.  We don't even make it to the end to see who wins.  Just the anticipation of losing brings on the tears.  Oh dear, I drew Princess Frostina again.  I'm sorry!

So, I have recently thought about taking the picture cards out of our deck.  Ollie has even asked me to do so - at least he is self-aware, right?  But we keep them in.  Because there are lessons being learned here, right?  Instead, we talk about being a gracious loser.  And how Candyland is a game of chance.  And how you really don't know who is going to win until the very end.  And we take deep breaths.  And draw another card.  And hope that really that game of chance won't let me win for a third time in a row...

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