Monday, March 3, 2014

Ethan's Favorite Thing in the World...At Least This Month

Please welcome the latest obsession in our house, or at least with a certain 6-year-old:

Meet Stratego, a game I'd never heard of until meeting Dan. Apparently he played it a lot as a kid, and wanted to introduce it to me once we were married (which is kind of funny, because normally Dan can't stand board games). Stratego is a kind of Battleship-like war game -- picture army guys of various rankings rather than ships -- and the object is to capture the other side's flag and avoid bombs. As is typical with all games except those involving words, Dan beat me soundly at Stratego again and again and again, until at one point I became so enraged (this is embarrassing to admit) that I actually threw the board and pieces after losing. That was, needless to say, the last time we played Stratego, although I'd like to think that 10 years later I've matured just a little (maybe?).

Anyway, Dan saw the game sitting there on the shelf and thought he'd teach it to Anna, only Ethan was even more interested. It's apparently for ages 8 and up, but he figured he'd give it a whirl with the boy, and voila! An obsession was born.

Ethan wants to play in the morning. He wants to play at night. He wants to play all weekend. He will play against himself if he has to. Most of all, he wants to beat dad, although that ain't happening anytime soon.

In the morning I hear, "Maybe daddy will play Stratego with me tonight." Or he wants to get in a game before school. Or he is reminiscing about where he placed his bombs the night before or planning where he'll hide his flag in the next game.

We'll be riding in the car and I'll hear from the back, "Last time you tried but I defeated your 10 with my 7." Or: "I bet you can't guess my strategy for the next game." I'm not quite sure he completely understands what the word strategy means, but he's heard Dan use it.

The cool thing about Stratego and autism is that it's a game that asks you to step into the other guy's mind and try to figure out what he's plotting. This kind of perspective-taking is great for Ethan.

The not-so-cool thing is, not surprisingly, that no one in the house wants to place the game as eagerly or as often as Mr. E.

Every time Ethan dabbles into another obsession we all start to feel a bit worn down after awhile. But I rarely can get truly annoyed, because nearly every time, I see shades of my younger self.

I remember discovering the Red Sox; collecting baseball cards and clipping articles that I read until they were dog-eared and memorized. I remember my Growing Pains/Kirk Cameron obsession, my scrapbook of magazine articles and photos and my list of every episode including ratings for each. I remember my crush on "Ron the trumpet player" and the way I secretly interviewed people to learn more about him and memorized his schedule and would devise ways to walk specific hallways at Central High so I would magically run into him at just the right moment.

Yeah, I can't fault him for the obsessiveness. I guess it's kind of in the genes. And so I will nod and smile when he takes out the board for the umpteenth time. Sometimes I'll play. Usually, sadly, I'll get beaten. We'll wait this thing out, knowing there will always be a new obsession lurking just around the bend, the moment this one begins to fade away.


Sylvia said...

Playing games is a great way of spending quality time together. If you don't throw the board when you lose, that is!!! LOL! I wonder if the makers of Stratego ever thought that their game might be used therapeutically for people on the spectrum! It was nice meeting you. I found you at Love that Max. Please feel welcome to link up at my Friendship Friday link up!

Sylvia said...

Thanks for joining us at FF! I hope you'll come again!

Anonymous said...

My husband loves Stratego. I hope one day my son can beat him because I've never been able to!