O. is enjoying having a new sister, and so far he has been really good with Roo. More than good, he’s been very sweet toward her: gentle when he holds her on his lap or gives her kisses and affectionate when he talks about her.
He also went through a phase the first couple of weeks after she came home where, although he was blameless in any situation involving the baby, he was being a major pain in the ass most of the rest of the time. So, consciously he was cool with the new addition to the family, but maybe subconsciously he needed to register his ambivalence. Thankfully, in recent days he seems to be back to his usual self, which is about 90% sweet, fun, and endearing, and 10% rascally and exasperating. I’m not quite sure what turned things around, but I have a theory that it’s all thanks to Chutes and Ladders.
Can I tell you frankly that I hate the game Chutes and Ladders? I loved it when I was five, but as an adult, I’m finding it grindingly boring, and it often seems just interminable, especially when the frontrunner lands on a naughty square and gets shunted down a long chute. I don’t actually care who wins any given game of Chutes and Ladders, as long as someone
wins within a reasonable span of time. But this is a game where luck changes very quickly, players often go plummeting down from somewhere very near the finish line, and the game can stretch on into an eternity of monotony.
O. loves the game, however, and I am all about spending time with my big boy here in the early weeks of this huge transition in his life, sharing the spotlight with his baby sister. We were given the game a couple weeks before Roo’s birth by our well-intentioned neighbors, and O. has taken to it with a passion just this past week. And somehow his difficult behavior and eerily adolescent attitude seem to have declined in inverse relation to our increasingly numerous daily games of what O. refers to as “Up the Ladder, Down the Chute.” I don’t know if the “moral lesson” aspect of the game (where good deeds are rewarded at the top of a ladder, and bad behavior leads to ill consequences at the bottom of a chute) is having an effect on him, or if it’s just the mere fact of more focused one-on-one time with one or both of his parents improving his general mood and outlook. I like to think it’s the latter, since I slightly resent what seems to me a simplistic and rather goody-goody morality at work behind the game. (I know, I analyze this shit too much.) But whatever the source, the apparent relation between improved O. attitude and games of Chutes and Ladders played makes an otherwise unbearable game considerably more tolerable for me.
I just hope none of our neighbors is planning to gift us with a copy of my other favorite game from early childhood. I haven’t played it in three decades, but I’m reasonably sure it’s as big a snoozefest as Chutes and Ladders. Plus it promotes extremely problematic values in terms of oral hygiene and overindulgence in sticky sweets. Lord, save me from Candyland.