Sunday, July 10, 2016

Alex's Game Shows

Ever since he was a little boy. Alex has been a big fan of television game shows, and he has continued his love for these programs over the years. In fact, we make sure nothing interferes with his watching The Price Is Right or Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune every day. We keep his schedule between 10:00-11:00 A.M.,  3:30-4:00 P.M., and 6:30-7:00 P.M. free, so that he can watch his beloved game shows. In the event something comes up during these sacred times, we must appease him by promising to tape his shows on the DVR so that he can watch them later.

Apparently, Alex is not the only person who enjoys watching television game shows, as evidenced by the revival of the old game shows Match Game, The $10,000 Pyramid, To Tell the Truth, and Family Feud. These prime time shows with new hosts and current celebrities have found new popularity with audiences who enjoy watching the friendly competition. Of course, Alex is now glued to Sunday night television, delighted to watch an evening of new game shows.

In many ways, our daily life is a game show in which Alex is the host and I am the “lucky” contestant chosen to answer unusual questions to satisfy him. Fortunately, he has taught me the rules well so that I am usually a successful participant. However, to the average observer, our games appear to be a series of strange questions and answers, yet because Alex enjoys our repartee, I am a willing partner in his inquiries. Here are just a few of the games we play.

Name That Crumb­­––Alex brings me a morsel of food he has found from who knows where (the floor, the table, his teeth?) and asks me to identify what it is. Sometimes the answer is obvious, and I can confidently tell him the answer. Other times, I have no clue because the crumb has been chewed or become petrified, or it is so small I would need a microscope to properly identify it. Nonetheless, to satisfy my inquiring host, I confidently tell him what it is, convincing him that I do know what “treasure” he has brought me.

Let’s Make a Schedule––For some reason, Alex believes that I know everything (perhaps because of my success at Name That Crumb), so he thinks I am a human TV Guide who knows when every television show airs. Recently, he has begun asking me when various sporting events will be on tv and on what channel. Unlike Name that Crumb, I can’t fake answers because he will check my accuracy to make sure I tell him the truth. Why he doesn’t just do this in the first place is beyond me, other than I think he enjoys seeing the panic on my face when I don’t immediately know what channel the NASCAR race is on.

To Not Tell the Truth––Although Alex trusts me to tell him the truth, we play a game in which he doesn’t tell the truth, and he probably knows that I’m onto his deception. In this game, he comes running to tell me that he’s going to throw up and needs sugar. This game originated from my giving him a little bit of sugar when he has hiccups, and he has generalized the value of this cure to vomiting, too. Knowing how much I hate cleaning up vomit, he realizes that just saying that he will throw up motivates me to move quickly to fulfill his “needs.” Being the gullible one I am, I jump up and give him a little sugar. He wins this round.

Catch Game––Another game Alex plays to get me moving fast is the Catch Game in which he acts as though he has been searching for days for some beloved and necessary belonging that he has misplaced. After questioning him about where he might have left the missing objects and having him convince me that he has searched the places I have mentioned, I usually find the “prize” in one of those locations he claims he has already checked. Once I locate the object and present it to him, we are both winners of this game.

Family Confused––Not all of our games involve running around the house; some simply involve banter between the two of us. In Family Confused, I must explain to him that his notions about family members are incorrect. For example, anytime he hears a woman with a high-pitched voice speaking, he is convinced that my sister is nearby. “Is that Aunt Tammy?” he will ask hopefully. We will then explain to him that the person he hears is not his beloved aunt but someone who just sounds like her. Another area of confusion for him is figuring out the identities of my dad and my brother, whose voices sound alike to him. He will repeatedly ask us, “Is Uncle Freddy Grandpa?” We then have to explain to him that they are two separate people, just like he and his dad are. Even though we have gone over this with him many times, he still likes to have this conversation over and over.

To Tell the Temperature––The value of repetition is also involved in this game in which Alex hears something about the city of Phoenix, which makes him always remark excitedly, “It gets hot in Phoenix!” We will agree with his assertion, and then he will ask a question whose answer he already knows: “How hot does it get in Phoenix?” We will then tell him that it gets about 100 degrees. Our imprecise answer amuses him because he can then correct us by saying, “No, between 105 and 110 degrees EXACTLY!”

The 9999 Pyramid––Alex’s precision is a key factor in this game, as well. He studies anything with numbers but has a special fascination for odometers on cars and receipts from stores and restaurants. He will peruse receipts intently, noting the number of digits, and ask us, “What happens after 9999?” We tell him that they would either add a digit and go to 10,000 or start over at 1. He will mull this over for a while before determining what response works best.

Meal of Fortune––This game allows Alex to combine two of his favorite things in the whole world: food and numbers. Before eating a meal, he assesses the various foods before him and begins asking a series of questions. “Can you count meat?” “Can you count strawberries?” “Can you count potatoes?” As we assure him that all of these solid foods are distinct and that he can count each bite of them, he will then shift his focus. “Can you count Gatorade?” Can you count salad dressing?” “Can you count ketchup?” As we explain to him, that those items are not countable because they are liquid, he can then start eating and counting the solid foods in a game he can continue independently.

The Pace Is Right––In another game that usually combines numbers and food, Alex wants to assess how many days a particular item will last before we need to go to the store and buy more. The object of his concern is usually a particular favorite of his at the time: Welch’s sparkling grape juice, dill pickles, black olives, cookies. Currently, he feels the need to check on his orange Gatorade supply and the number of Italian sausages we have in the refrigerator. Once he is reassured that we have plenty, he is satisfied that our inventory is sufficient to meet his needs. In a similar game, he wants to know how many days of leftovers we have. For most people, leftovers are not something to celebrate, but for Alex, they mean a few days of tasty lunches, and he hopes that we have more than one day of leftovers for him to eat. Recently, Alex has expanded his Pace Is Right to checking on how much toilet paper is left on the roll in the bathroom. Because toilet paper rolls have gotten smaller and smaller over the years, Alex is concerned that he may run out at an inopportune time. My role in this game is to estimate how many days are left on a t.p. roll before it will need to be changed. Once I have given my final answer, Alex checks the progress of the roll to make sure I have told him accurately. Fortunately, I am really good at figuring out how much toilet paper we use, so he trusts my assessment, making us both winners at this game.

While many of these games Alex and I play stem from his OCD needs to organize details, I suspect that he also enjoys the conversations we have about topics he likes, such as numbers and food. Even though going through the same dialogue over and over could be tedious, I’m pleased that he wants to share information and that he has the verbal skills to engage in banter. I’m just hoping I don’t have to explain that whole “spay or neuter your pet” line with him anytime soon.

“But ask those who have been around, and they will tell you the truth.” Job 21:29


Adelaide Dupont said...

I like Family Confused and the Meal of Fortune.

The Pace is right is a good game too.

Toilet rolls getting smaller and smaller...

Liquid is measurable not countable.

Pam Byrne said...

Dear Adelaide,
Thank you for your nice comments! Hope you are doing well.

Take care,