Driving to Distraction
A simple and fun word game amuse kids of all ages.
“Daddy, I'm bored,” the six-year-old says while traveling in the car.
“Sweetie pie,” I say into the rear-view mirror, “Daddy cries himself to sleep at night. Sometimes boring is good.”
“Daaaadeeee,” she repeats with emphasis, in case I missed it the first time. “I'm booored.”
Okay. It's times like this that parents earn their stripes and pull some fun out of thin air.
The problems with spending time on the road is that you can't read together or play a game with a lot of little parts.
Fortunately, I know a game that is an entertaining time-killer that can be modified for any age group and played among any number of participants.
Called “Categories,” the game requires no equipment or preparation, just a quick mind. I wish I could credit the person who turned me on to Categories, which has rescued my family many times.
Here's how it works. One person names a category of something, and participants take turns in rapid succession naming things in that category. If you repeat an item that's already been named, you're out. If you don't name something within the time limit, you're out. The last person standing is the winner.
For example, if the category is desserts, participants take turns naming various desserts: cake, pie, pudding, custard, mousse, flan, creme brulee and so on. First person who can't name something that hasn't been mentioned is out.
The last person in the game gets to pick the next category.
Make the categories broad for very young children, such as animals or foods, and give them 30 seconds or a minute to think of something.
For older kids or adults, the categories should be narrower and more specific – mammals or flying animals, modes of transportation, types of writing instruments.
Along the way there are invariably diversions into discussion of whether flying squirrels should count as flying even though they're actually just coasting, which is still pretty cool.
Categories is even fun among adults, using topics such as titles of TV sitcoms, superhero sidekicks, cover songs, or types of sausage. It's sort of like Trivial Pursuit that you already have in your head and can play anytime.
Try Categories and you may be surprised to discover the amusing scenic detours of the mind, and before you know it – you've arrived.