Friday, January 21, 2011

Chutes and F%&$@! Ladders

*Warning: this post contains some salty language*

Being a single dad four days of the week, I get a lot of playing time with my daughter. For the longest time, she was mostly interested in pretend playing with a varied assortment of dolls and plastic figurines. She had her favorite six or so that she always played with but I always get stuck with one plastic figurine of the boy named Hansel out of the fairy tale. After awhile, my wife and I took to joking about getting 'Hanseled' every time my daughter would walk up and throw him on my lap and say, "lets play!" My daughter took it to heart and now comes up and throws Hansel on my lap and announces, "you've been hanseled." She definitely knows how to get me to play with her.

Gradually I have been trying to get her into something else that I can enjoy more and that is board games. Though not a board game in the classic sense, I got her first started playing Cooties. She took to it immediately but because they only manufacture stuff with cheap plastic crap, the pieces never would stay together and she would get frustrated. I solved 80% of the frustration by super gluing the body and head pieces into one unit and the remainder of the frustration I avoid by always taking the pieces that don't fit well. Grandma got her Candy Land which she always plays when down on the farm but I needed something to transfer her too up at our house. So I got UNO.

My daughter likes playing UNO with all the colors and numbers and soon got the gist of the game. It was fun seeing her develop from simply playing the first card that matched either in number or color to some more strategic plays like playing strings of 'Draw Two' cards and to stacking the deck with 'Draw Four' wild cards when I'm not in the room. I quickly learned that the concept of 'cheating' is born in us.

But the real subject of this post and a board game that I got in conjunction with UNO is Chutes and Ladders. It didn't start off as a favorite of my daughters because it was a little too complex. It took her a long while to figure out the board and in which direction you need to move after you have spun the spinner. If you aren't familiar with the board, it is simply a board with 100 squares in rows of ten with no defined path other than numbers that increase up the board in a zig zag fashion. To a four year old who can only count to sixteen before getting confused, it is confusing. But I eventually showed her how to master which way to go and we were off. There is no strategy to this game based only on luck and an ability to spin the spinner so it probably shouldn't have surprised me that she learned to cheat at this game more quickly by spinning multiple times until she got a big number or do little flicks that didn't go all the way around to achieve the same result. I put an end to that by saying you only get one spin and it must go all the way around and after some pouting, she was back playing. Most recently, she has learned to see into the future by counting squares to a desirable landing spot and wishing for them when she spins. It melts my heart to see that which is really necessary when at times I am overcome with an incredible urge to tear up the board into tiny bits and burn the little plastic and cardboard game pieces.

I have come to loathe the numbers 48 and 49. Those two spaces are the tops of two side by side chutes that send the person landing on them sliding all the way back to the early rows of the board. Because the spinner only has six places, you have at most a thirty-three percent chance of landing on them and yet I hit those bastards every single time while my daughter skips right over them. Last night I hit them six times in a row! What really gets me is that in researching for this post, most older pictures of this board game have them chutes starting from squares 47 and 49 with a safe space in-between them but in my new version of this game, some sick f&$@ decided that he would put them together. He had better hope that I never find out his name!

While I'm hitting spaces 48 and 49 one hundred percent of the time, my daughter has her own issues. She gets way to the top and either wins or hits number 87 which also sends the lander going way back to the beginning. The difference is that she gets to travel the whole length of the board in-between times while I just go in an endless f@#&!$@# loop consisting of three rows. Another difference is that most of the time she skips right over it and wins.

Last night however was one of those nights where I had just landed on either 48 or 49 for the sixth consecutive time and my daughter had rode down the chute beginning at 87 for the third time when I decided to do the unthinkable. When I got to square 46 and of course spun a three meaning I was destined for endless f#$%$@# loop number seven, I cheated. I casually counted on to square number 50 and told my daughter it was her turn. She never noticed. She also never noticed when many turns later when of course I had to spin that exact f!@#$!% number that would land me on the mother of all slides starting at number 87 and I skipped on to number 88. At this point the game had been going on for 45 minutes and I was most definitely about to lose my cool. I cheated again on space 95 and 98 and finally 'won' the game by landing on space 100. My daughter gracefully said, "oh man," giving my the obligatory high five and began putting the game away to move onto something else. I just concentrated on taking deep breaths.


R. Sherman said...

Don't bet that she didn't notice. When I was her age, I got way too many gifts at Christmas, so my mom put a bunch away immediately and re-wrapped them for my birthday in February. She thought I was none the wiser.

In February, a neighbor who knew what was up so asked me on my birthday what gifts I'd received.

My Response?

"Just some stuff left over from Christmas."

You wait. She'll bring this up again. It's our doom as parents.


(BTW, I recall my brother heaving the C&L board across the room and running to his bedroom crying after hitting the long slide twice, so your reaction is understandable.)

sage said...

I've played that game too many times and know your frustrations... Teach her Chess!

geri said...

I admit your patience in playing this game with Little Abbey =) I should check our UNO though.

TC said...

You know it's just a game, right?


edifice rex said...

I haven't laughed this hard at a blog post in some time! thanks!
Oh, my oldest niece loved to play board games when she was little; I learned to cheat too.

Ed said...

R. Sherman - It is scary what things kids pick up on.

Sage - I'm counting down the days.

Geri - Evan would love UNO!

TC - To my daughter it is a game. To me, it is a version of hell.

Edifice Rex - I'm glad I could make you laugh. Sometimes I find it better to see the humor in a bad situation than to stew upon it for long periods of time.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Pretty soon she'll be beating you at GO, where cheating is really difficult.

Bone said...

Wow. I don't recall Chutes & Ladders coming with a "WARNING: May cause extreme frustration and occasional cursing" label :)

I have Hungry Hungry Hippos in the bookshelf, if you're ever in the area.