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More Life Lessons From Cariboo

Maddie and Cora both love the game Cariboo
they received for Christmas, and as I’ve blogged about
previously, Maddie’s been learning the hard way the lesson of
how to lose graciously – or at least without dissolving into
a complete puddle of tears. Nearly a month since they first played,
both show no signs of a waning love for the game – if
anything, it’s intensified and we go through at least a
half-dozen games a day.

Coming down the stairs for breakfast in
the morning, Cora will spy the box and cry, “Play
Cariboo!” (though it sounds more like “Pay
Cah-Boo!”) I can persuade her away from it with a promise of
breakfast, her favorite meal and one that lasts almost an hour most
days – but that’s another blog. At any rate,
we’ll usually get in a couple rounds before lunch, another
one or two before naps, and then several hands after dinner.

Maddie’s favorite time of day to
play is right after her nap – if Cora’s still asleep.
I’ll go in to snuggle her when she wakes, and she’ll
look at me with faux casualness and say, “Is Cora still
asleep?” If I answer in the affirmative, she’ll spring
out of bed and say, “Let’s play Cariboo!”
She’ll run downstairs to set the game up, and it’s the
only time in her life she remembers to be quiet so as not to wake
Cora; she’ll whisper the whole game, even though we’re
a floor away, to make sure Cora doesn’t wake up and want a
piece of the action.

Because as much as Maddie’s progressing, she still
doesn’t enjoy losing. Yes, she’ll now smile and say,
“Cora, you got the last ball! You get to open the
treasure!” but that girl wants the whole game to herself. She
loves the colors of the balls, pondering which door to open, the
sparkle dust on the gaudy treasure, everything. She wants to find
those rubber balls so bad, she cheats.

Yes, my child has now learned to cheat at games.

About a week ago, Maddie discovered that if she lay down on the
floor near the game, she could see inside and see where the balls
were. She began reclining without preamble, peering intently into
the board’s recesses. When we realized what was up, we
explained to Maddie the concept of cheating, and how and why
it’s bad.

Undaunted, Maddie simply became more accomplished at cheating.

She’ll now play her turn, then say dramatically,
“I’m tired – I’m going to lie down for a
few minutes” before reclining and slitting her eyes to peer
inside. We’ve had to instigate a “no reclining”
rule for the game, though she tries hard to get around it.

And here’s the funny thing: she cheats even when she’s
the only person playing.

I’m not sure why she does it solo; she seems to genuinely
enjoy the thrill of opening a door and seeing if there’s a
ball behind it, and it’s not as if there’s a question
about who’s going to “win” when she’s the
only one playing. My best guess is that she so enjoys discovering
each ball that she wants to ensure she can do it each turn, leave
nothing to chance.

The final kicker is that after she’s found all the balls, she
still opens ever door just for the fun of it.

All in all, we’re still loving the game; the girls have
learned to hand over the key to each other with grave courtesy when
their turns are up, and they’ve developed a system for
splitting the ball recovery equally at the end of the game.
Cora’s learning a lot playing –she identifies each
color correctly every time, and is fast conquering her letters,
thanks to coaching from her older sister.

I just hope that’s all she’s learning from Maddie.


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