It can be a joy to watch your child’s dreams get shattered…if you’re ready for it…
|Please welcome guest blogger Bryun Lemon|
As a father, husband, and owner of Chapter Three Games, I think about games a lot.
After years of playing, designing, selling and watching others do the same with
games, I’ve seen my share of people who try to win at all costs and miss the whole
point of the game. You see, when we worry only about winning, we fail to learn
valuable lessons and miss out on treasured memories with loved ones. This was
made very clear to me when I watched my son’s dreams get shattered and it made
us all laugh and smile. Now, before you post your scathing rebuke of my callous
attitude, it’s important to understand what happened.
For my son, this dream destruction came on a day like any other. It started out as a
pretty ordinary day – we got dressed, ate breakfast together, kids left for and came
back from school, we made small talk about homework and weather, and then our
12-year-old son decided we should all make spaceships that night. It sounded fun
enough, so we decided after dinner and chores were done, we’d build some
starships and see who the best pilot was. His dream that day was to build the perfect
ship and to win the game.
With relatively little fanfare, the chores managed to get finished, the gauntlet throw-
downs about who was going to win began, and the epic shipbuilding contest started.
Or, in layman’s terms – we started playing a board game that happened to be about
building and flying spaceships.
For this particular game, everybody would become a starship captain building their
vessel from junk parts (cardboard game tiles) and then brave the dangers of space
(the game board) with our crews (little plastic spacemen) fighting off pirate attacks
and meteors (event cards that we’d turn over) and become the best pilot in the
galaxy (the one with the most money at the end of the game).!
The game had the usual light-hearted taunting and trash-talking that our family
enjoys, right up until the end. My son had created his shipbuilding masterpiece and
was on par to clobber us all (a fact that he reminded us of at least 542 times that
night). By all means, it looked like his bragging was justified…until an unlucky dice
roll caused him to lose half his ship to a meteor swarm. The next card was a fleet of
pirates that managed to take out most of what was left, and by the last turn my son’s
masterpiece was nothing more than a cockpit and a rocket. The majestic battleship
he had constructed with the hopes of winning the game had been reduced to
cardboard rubble in a few short turns.
And you know what he did in the face of this terrible dream-shattering tragedy? He
laughed. He started joking about the race ending and his little pilot flying across the
finish line with a steering wheel on a rocket-barrel. By the time we were done
playing, we had spent the evening laughing, joking and teasing the ill-fated captain.
And our family had created a memory that we still laugh about today.
So why bring this up in a forum about missionaries? Because what happened at that
table - before and after that night – can be a powerful tool to prepare our kids for a
world that’s ready to gobble them up. This was even more evident when I watched
that same son playing with a friend a few months later.
I don’t even remember the game their group was playing, but I do remember the
tantrum from one of the neighbor kids. This young boy was screaming and trying to
pop the veins in his forehead over some horrific rules breach and was busy storming
off in protest when my son turned to the rest of the group with a shrug and asked
what they were playing next. His teammate had stormed off, his team had lost, and
he just shrugged it off!
Now, don’t get me wrong - everybody loves to win. It’s easy to have fun when we’re
winning. We all know this. Part of playing games, however, means we’re not always
going to win. Some kids learn this and have fun no matter what the final score is.
Others never learn this and only enjoy games when they’re ahead.
And this is why playing games is so important for kids as they’re working towards
adulthood. The way we handle games as a child becomes the pattern for how we
handle games and life events as adults (college, dating, employment, missionary
service, et al). As parents, we all know that the events that turned out like we hoped
are a fraction of those that end up becoming a ‘learning experience’ for us (I always
hated that phrase, even if it is just that). Children need an environment where wins
and losses are inconsequential…a place where they can get up from the table with
their confidence and self-worth still intact. A lot of this comes by watching mom or
dad’s ship (or railroad empire or plastic army) get obliterated while we laugh and
joke about it – setting the stage for how to react to losses of all kinds.
As a missionary, I was able to see both sides of the coin in this regard. I saw
missionaries who were able to roll with the punches of slammed doors, companion
disputes, bible-bashing ministers and long periods of time without letters from
home. With the same shrug that my son handled his grievous setbacks in a safe
environment, these missionaries were able to shrug their shoulders and move
ahead. These were the missionaries who always smiled and who seemed to enjoy
the journey itself. Contrast that with the missionaries who threw a tantrum against
members, companions, and even God himself when they perceived some horrific
‘rules violation’ of how it was supposed to be. These missionaries had learned to
enjoy the journey when they were ‘winning’ (teaching, baptizing, training a LOT of
people), but missed the joy that was the journey itself.
As a parent, I want to see my children succeed in life. Succeeding in life doesn’t mean
winning all the time, and often it means we lose a lot more than we should. When we
learn to handle setbacks with a shrug and enjoy the trip, we will succeed at what
matters most. When we teach our kids to shrug off the small setbacks in life - losing
your fortune because the dice put you on Park Place with hotels, coming in last lace
because you had to draw 4 cards three turns in a row, or having your invincible
battlecruiser destroyed by space pirates – it teaches them to shrug off the larger
setbacks they will certainly face – losing a job, being dumped by a fiancé days before
a wedding, or having an investigator call off a baptism and ask the missionaries to
stop coming over.
And so, coming back to those shattered dreams…
How wonderful it is to be able to watch your child’s dreams be shattered in a safe
place, with plastic and cardboard as the casualties! When this happens, we know
they’ll be ready for the hard times they’ll run into as missionaries – opening a new
area with nobody to teach, a ‘dear john’ waiting in their inbox, or a companion who
likes to sleep in until noon every day. When that time comes (and as parents, we
know it will), imagine how nice it will be for that missionary to remember the
laughter his family shared as his prize warship was destroyed by cardboard meteors
and plastic pirates…
…and he’ll shrug his shoulders as a man with the same resolve he did when he was
About the author: Eight kids call Bryun Lemon “dad”, one beautiful lady calls him
“dear” and everyone at his company - Chapter Three Games - calls him…Bryun.
Bryun took something he enjoyed growing up (board games) and combined it with a
desire to create something to being families together. When he started Chapter
Three Games with the mission statement “It’s not about the games we make, it’s
about the people who play them” became the focus for why they were doing this.
The latest game, Five Minute Delivery, is a game that gives families without a lot of
time (that’s pretty much all of us) a way to spend time with each other. They are
running their Kickstarter for Five Minute Delivery through August, and the link to
check it out can be found here: www.fiveminutedelivery.com.