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It’s about a thirty-minute drive from our house to my parents’. Getting to Lisa’s parents’ takes twice as long. For a 5-year-old, this is an excruciatingly long time to be strapped into a car seat with nothing to do. In fact, in a 5-year-old’s universe, this is roughly equivalent to what an adult would perceive to be three months.

So, to stay alert, stave off boredom and prevent car-seat sores, we play, “The Guessing Game.”

This is a complex game of emotional intrigue in which someone in the car thinks of an object, and the rest of us try to guess what it is. Like this:

5-year-old: Got it.

Someone else in the car: Ok, is it in the car?

5-year-old: No.

Someone else in the car: Is it alive?

5-year-old: No.

Someone else in the car: Is it outside?

5-year-old: Umm. Yes.

Someone else in the car: Is it a pet?

5-year-old: No! It’s not alive. “HELLO!!”

Someone else in the car: Well, it could be a dead pet.

5-year-old: Dad!

Someone else in the car: What?

5-year-old: (giggles) It’s not a pet. It’s a tree!

Someone else in the car: (scolding) Nora, you’re not supposed to tell us!

5-year-old: I FORGOT!

Someone else in the car: And besides, a tree isn’t dead!

5-year-old: EMMA! DON’T TELL ME THAT! (starts crying)

Someone else in the car: (soothingly) Oh, Nora, it’s alright. You can do another one.

5-year-old: I don’t want to.

Someone else in the car: It could have been a dead tree.

As you can imagine, a game like this can really sharpen a guy’s telepathic skills. In fact, I’ve gotten so good at “The Guessing Game” they won’t let me play anymore–otherwise it goes kind of like this:

Me: Pick a really hard one this time.

Someone else in the car: Whatever.

Me: I’m just saying.

Someone else: I know Dad.

Me: Got it yet?

Someone else: Yep–got it.

Me: That antique Mt. Dew bottle with a picture of a hillbilly kid with a straw in his mouth–the one on Grandma’s shelf in the basement.

Someone else: You bug me.

I’ve gotten so good that I can tell what they are going to pick even before they know themselves.

And I can prove it.

Remember that set of cards at the top of this post? Go ahead and pick one. Now, so that you don’t forget, say it out loud.

Studies have shown that you remember better when you verbalize something. If that makes you feel stupid (or if you’re at work or something and doing so will make people think you’re starting to lose it–just whisper it to yourself, or better yet–write it down).

I’ll wait.

Got it? Great.

Now click over to this link.