Friday night was full of social festivities as Andrew and I hosted a family get-together. With a large extended family nearby, occasionally we members of the third generation--brothers, sisters, cousins and accompanying spouses--will get together for a chance to talk without the constant chorus of whining, fighting or tattling children energetically displaying their cousinly affection.
It quickly became apparent that while you can take the adults away from the children you evidently cannot take the children out of the adults as the conversation progressed beyond the basic, "So what have you been up to?" Yes, after the usual recap of each family's latest adventures the conversation turned to intense metaphysical questions such as: "If you were a boxer, what would your nickname be?"As there isn't anything as scary as a nasty attorney I suggested Andrew could go far by adopting a name like "“The Papercut."”
The sibs at first argued that "The Paper Pusher" might be more appropriate but really now, a boxer who can only push and shove? I don't think so, and besides, paper cuts really hurt.But even beyond the obvious boxing advantages to having a great nickname, I suggested that my favorite attorney could go far in the corporate world by simply adopting this catchy new moniker--it could only help his ability to intimidate if he had a middle name in quotation marks. Something like: Andrew "The Papercut" Mitton that he could have printed on his business cards and letterhead followed by some catchy slogan like, "Shallow Yet Painful."
It got us all thinking, drifting into even deeper existential waters that probed the depth of our intellectual abilities. I think it was Dan and Rebecca who then described one of their favorite family games called, appropriately enough, "Silly Questions." Stick with me here as I outline the detailed rules of the game: Player one submits a thought-provoking conundrum which all other players take turns answering, including with their answer the reasons for their selection.
For example, my sister in-law, Rebecca might ask the other members of her family, "Which would you rather have, foot-long fingers or foot-long toes?" and everyone would have to give their choice followed by their reasons why (long fingers could get you a career in the NBA but long toes would be great for swimming). This round might be followed up by my nephew Will asking, "If you were a clown at the circus and had a spray bottle that you used to spray people with, would you rather it contained orange juice, shampoo or that spray oil stuff you spray on your pans."
Great game, one that my kids took to immediately, beginning a fascinating voyage of self-discovery and family unity. On the way to school this morning we considered such thoughts as, "Would you rather be eaten by a great white shark or by a giant squid?" Most said a shark, based on Speed of Digestion, but there was a dissenting opinion that pointed out how one's eternal fame and glory would be assured if eaten by a squid because, hey, who gets eaten by a giant squid?
At dinner Andrew and the kids kept up a lively discussion about which would be more desirable: to be able to pull your favorite snack out of your belly button upon demand, or to have laser beams shoot from your eyes. Most players went for the appeal of instant gastronomically-produced edibles while I personally felt that laser beams would be handier, especially when driving or keeping kids quiet during church. Grace was the lone fence-sitter in the group, seeing the benefits of a belly-button smorgasbord, but after considering the potential trouble it could cause if used during school, determined it wasn'’t worth the study-hall risk and remained undecided.
So if anyone tells you that television is sapping the intelligence and creativity of American children, don't be too sure, I know mine are busy right now weighing the benefits between owning a swimming pool full of Jello and a tree that grows meatballs.
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