On Gaming Daughters and Life-Knitting

My five-and-a-half year old daughter rocks the house. She's smart and creative. She writes and illustrates stories on her own. She's learning the piano and taking gymnastics. And she loves games.

Her favorite game lately is Forbidden Island. She plays with everyone she can. I think she's only lost one or two games in about a dozen plays on Novice, so I think that encourages her to play more. There's something tremendously satisfying about getting all the treasures and escaping before the island completely sinks.

It kills me that I feel like I can't game with her more often.

Last night I tried an experiment. I didn't turn on my laptop at home. I wrote email with my phone, but I didn't get sucked into the trap of checking Twitter and G+ and Facebook simply because those browser tabs were loaded anyway and it would just take a minute. I had some time to disconnect and reattach with my home.

Then we decided to play Once Upon A Time when bedtime came around. We made up a main character and gave her a problem to overcome. It was all free-form, asking questions and making up answers. I connected with my daughter through the medium of the story in a way that's difficult in today's "need to get everything done right now" world.

Last night, the Princess of the Kingdom of Flowers didn't have a place to live because her parents moved to Japan, a 3-day journey, and the enchanted castle broke down. She asked everyone to help her, but nobody had any place for her to stay. Then she talked to the owner of a hotel, and he gave the Princess the last room on the 100th floor of the 2000-story hotel. Next episode, the Princess will lose a bracelet and we'll figure out how she resolves that issue.

We have a new game to play, a new tradition. We both have something to look forward to at bedtime now. The story doesn't have to be deep, or complex, or even sensical. It just needs to be told. And in the telling, we make memories. And memories tie us together in tiny touchpoints of awesome.

When we game, we knit our lives together with yarn spun of pure creativity. That's real-world magic. You can keep your fireballs and strength buffs. Give me a good game and good people to share it with, and I'll knit memories to keep with me for the rest of my days.

So thank you to everyone I've ever shared a table with. And here's hoping we can all share many more games before time realizes we're not immortal.

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