Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Don't ever play Pictionary with anyone under 12. Even the kids' version. It's just not worth it. All that annoyed tension that builds up when you're playing in college your freshman year with a bunch of people you hardly know and someone actually manages to have a case of beer, and someone's drawing something and you're saying "Snowshoes! Ice skates! Uh, skis! Uh, hockey! BOBSLED! SLEIGH! WHAT! WHAT! DRAW SOMETHING ELSE! ARRRRGHGGGHHH!" and you find out that the person was actually trying to draw a combustible engine -- well, that gets tense. And seven-year-old kids just don't know how to handle that kind of tension.

John got the kids' version several years ago. We modified the rules so two people could play (you end up drawing for your opponent, but whatever), and when he was four, Pictionary was like pulling teeth. Even now, it's difficult. The four of us played the other night, and John drew a museum by sketching out a building (Matt: "SCHOOL! OFFICE! Uh, POST OFFICE!") and then a tiny window, and then trying to draw people looking at a painting. But only visible through the tiny window. Scale has not entered his head yet.

It was more frustating for Matt. In drawing tag, he drew two people chasing each other. John was stumped. Matt drew a price tag, which John got. He then drew an arrow at the two people chasing each other. "Uh, shoulder tag?" John said. Matt almost threw the pencil across the room.

At the end of the game, Matt drew the Union Jack. "British!" John cried. Then Matt drew a muffin. "Muffin!" John said. Matt drew a toaster, a finished product, some butter and jelly. John said, "British muffin!"

When time had run out, we laughed and joshed him, and John smiled back with those shiny-bright eyes of a seven-year-old who thinks everyone is laughing at him, but knows that they aren't really, but who feels like it just a little bit, and is sad that the game had to end like that. I recognized it because I used to do it too. So we talked about how the fun of Pictionary is actually kind of tense, not like, say, Candyland, in which the fun is like banging your head against a wall for an hour. (Actually, I didn't say that.)

Maia is even better when it comes to playing Pictionary. The kids and I played about a week ago; I explained the rules to her and said that we had to draw something -- "A rhinoceros?" she interrupted. "No, whatever's on the card," I said, and she accepted that. John drew a card for her, and whispered to her what to draw for me. She scribbled on the pad, so I just guessed everything I could: "A truck? A dog? A tree? A baseball? A house?"

"Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope!" she said. And, when time ran out, "A rhinoceros!"

When we played the other night, Matt told her to draw something. She carefully moved the pen over the paper, drawing something that looked like a sinuous scribble. "Uh, a ghost?" I said.

"Nope!" she beamed. "It's a dead flower."

"Maia!" said Matt. "I told you to draw glasses!"

"I know!" she replied. "But I don't know how to dwaw glasses!"


  1. And yet again, you are my psychic twin.
    I've been trying to get the Boy to do board games. How many Sorry pieces have I picked up from across the room? Sigh. Pictionary? That's a crime scene waiting to happen.

  2. Ah, reminds of the Sunday night Scrabble games with Aunt L.--3 adults and 2 kids under the age of 8 using a regular Scrabble set. It also reminds me of a 5 year old who learned her addition facts from rolling dice in Monopoly games.