Sunday afternoon the natives were getting restless so I asked them if they wanted to play a game.  Kitten quickly chose Candy Land.  This game has been in heavy rotation at my house recently and I’m not sure why because neither of my girls has entirely grasped the concept of how a board game should be played.  Alas, it’s not about me it’s about them, so I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled in for what they thought was how Candy Land was supposed to be played.  It went a little something like this:

Lovey stacks the cards on Lord Licorice “because he’s creepy”.  Kitten picks two plastic guys; Honey argues that she’s only supposed to have one.  Kitten then puts one guy in her mouth.  Problem solved.  Lovey takes a turn, I take a turn, and Kitten takes a card and throws it on the floor.  Lovey gets upset that Kitten isn’t playing the game the right way, I tell her to ignore her.  Kitten is apparently upset by this and eats Lovey’s plastic guy.  Lovey retaliates by throwing Kitten’s guy on the floor.  Kitten takes all the cards off the board and refuses to give them back.  Lovey takes her guy back, marches it to King Kandy’s castle and declares herself the winner.   Game over.  Momma sips coffee quietly.

photo

The calm before the storm. Note the coffee cup.
Photo credit: C. Fuss

While I was sitting there playing the game (if you could even call it that) I was struck by how Candy Land is a lot like life.  Life is one big adventure with lots of twists and turns.  Although our choices are not predetermined by the color on a card, we do have to accept them good or bad.  There are parts of life that are a lot like Gramma Nut’s house full of treats and friends, and there are parts of life that are scary like Lord Licorice.  And who wouldn’t want to think themselves as beautiful as Princess Frostine?  (Back in my day she was called Queen Frostine which I like the sound of much better.)

When I was younger the rules stated that if you got a pink card with a special picture on it (like the gum drop or the ice cream cone) you had to go to that space whether it was ahead of you or behind you.  Now the rules state that you don’t have to go backwards to a space and only have to move to a pink space if it is ahead of you.  Likewise, in 2004 the black dot spaces were replaced with licorice spaces and you lose a turn.  In the good ‘ol days you could sit on that black dot for the remainder of the game before you got the right color to move you forward.  I appreciate that Hasbro has taken a more positive spin on a game for 5 year olds.  Life should be focused on the positive too.  For me, I am constantly trying to focus on the positive and keep moving forward rather than looking back at what might have been.  I’m thankful that Candy Land is already teaching that skill to my kids, even if they don’t necessarily see it that way.  Don’t we all want something to look forward to at the end of a long road; like a castle full of candy?  While I don’t endorse overindulgence in sweet treats, I do want my girls to know that goals are important and they should focus on something positive.

Perhaps the best way Candy Land imitates life is the act of playing it.  I never know how the game is going to go down with Lovey and Kitten.  Sometimes all the rules are followed, sometimes it ends with cards on the floor.  Just like parenting.  You never know what you’re gonna get.  I think we can all agree that just like Candy Land there’s almost always fun involved and it’s always worth the ride.

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