Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In the quiet morning

I woke up this morning to Chloë calling softly, "Maia? Maia? Maia? Maia, are you awake? Maia? Maia?"

Evidently she was, or was by the time Chloë finished speaking. There were some murmurs. I burrowed deeper in the covers, savoring my last moments of being warm and prone and un-climbed-on. "I'll go get Mama," Chloë said, and I nodded to myself. There was a quiet pause.

Then I woke up again to hear Chloë saying something else to Maia, and Maia answering. The clock said 7:25, which meant it was high time to get up. So I elevated myself and padded to Maia's room.

Chloë lay on the floor, on her stomach. Maia lounged in her crib. They were both pleased to see me, but not as enthusiastic as they sometimes get. "Where were you?" Chloë asked as I lifted Maia out and prepared to change her diaper. "I went to your bed but you weren't there."

"I was there," I said. "Maybe you couldn't see me because I was next to Daddy?"

"Maybe you were under the blanket," she suggested, darkly, as if I'd hidden from her on purpose. I hadn't, but now I know how to fool her. Or at least I did. I suppose she's wise to that trick now.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Let's make Candy Land better

Chloë enjoys playing games, which is of course really awesome.  Unfortunately, as we all know, kids' games tend to be... well, hardly games.  The games are entirely luck-based; at best, they teach counting and taking turns, though some may involve a "learning" element--teaching letters or number or whatnot.

She loves Candy Land, but it's a horrible game.  So the other day, I spent some time with her trying to make it better--but it still needs a lot of work.  Let's consider the "alternate" version given in the Candy Land rulebook, which actually integrates an element of thought, though no reduction in luck.  This variant is to draw two cards, then use just one.  It is useful for teaching how to determine which of two cards is best--a great skill for gaming!--but it's a true baby step.

Next try:  Draw a hand of three cards.  Play one, then draw one.  Again, it adds an element of thought, though the game is still mostly deterministic; the only difference is that the cards that could set you back now simply become dead cards in your hand.  OK, we're getting better.

Next try:  Same as before, but add an attack.  On your turn, if you're not in the lead, you can spend a card to move the leader backward rather than moving yourself forward.  We didn't finish this game--Maia woke up and that was the end of that--but I think that, once you figure out how to play, this version turns into a complete slog where no one advances significantly.

I think the next step is to take the "special" cards--the doubles and the picture cards--and give them some sort of alternate special power.

At this age she's not ready for a complete strategic overhaul of Candy Land, but hey, it's worth starting now...