Despite being a family of gamers, we’ve never gotten out a deck of cards. For one, all eight decks we have are jumbled in a big bag, along with a crazy collection of poker chips (“Look, M–it’s doubloons!”). For another, we already play a lot of games. But M found the bag the other day and begged me to play. I told him that he needed to find a whole deck, giving instructions on sorting, and then we could play. Soon enough, one deck emerged from the bunch.
M: Can we play now?
Me: Sure. There’s a whole lot of things we can play.
M: But can we play this first? (holding up the deck)
Me: Absolutely. We could play crazy eights or go fish or…
M: (Slower, as if I’m not hearing him, patting the deck) But can we play this first?
Me: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Did you want to play go fish or–
M: (Even slower, more patting, and louder, as though I might be going deaf) BUT CAN WE PLAY THIS FIRST?
And then it hits me: all the other games we have are games in themselves, not the means to a game. Nothing like a deck of cards to show your kids a whole world of possibilities, along with the very real truth that good communication skills must always come along for the ride.