FIRST FRIEND (CLUB PROMPT – COUSINS)

I decided this week that photos would be the best medium to answer this prompt and portray this story. What you’re seeing here are the slides from the PowerPoint I created to share with the class.  With the shift in viewing habits to mobile devices, I decided to not upload the presentation, but instead just to copy the slides and post them in order.    Enjoy!

 

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THE WHOLE WORLD IN OUR HANDS (CLUB PROMPT – HOLDING HANDS)

Driving home from the pool, Mom grabs my hand as the car door flies open and I almost fall out…..
PROTECTION

Age 5, holding the hand of my younger sister, dressed up for church in our winter coats and furry winter hats to match….
WARMTH

Clasping hands with the reverend as we leave church….
PEACE

With my Gram’s encouragement, tentatively taking the hand of Donald Duck on my first trip to Disney World….
LEARNING TO TRUST

Clinging to Dad’s hand (and leg!) from our position on a tall overlook at a theme park…..
SAFE

After alighting from our car, seeing a dead pigeon on the sidewalk, and getting a bit woozy, Mom latches onto my hand and moves me quickly ahead to keep me from fainting onto the cement…..
STEADINESS

Holding hands with my best friend and jumping up and down as the boy I like notices me…..
EXCITEMENT

Shaking the hand of my principal as I graduate from high school….
CONGRATULATIONS

My husband and I, at our wedding, join hands…
A PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE

Shaking hands with my new boss….
I HAVE A JOB!

Mom taking my hand and talking about the future when I lose my first child……
HOPE

My newborn son wrapping his all his little fingers around one of mine….
THE BEGINNING OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Taking up the hand of my small son and leading him into school…..
LET ME GIVE YOU THE WORLD

Touching the tiny hand of my brand new niece….
MY SISTER’S FINEST ACHIEVEMENT

Holding hands with my brother as we dance at his wedding….
THE PAST WATCHING THE FUTURE UNFOLD

Gripping my grandmother’s hand at Christmas and watching her eyes light up when I tell her that I’ll have a present for her sometime next summer….
JOY

Clenching my husband’s hand as I labour out our second child…..
MEETING NEW LIFE TOGETHER

Rubbing and patting my hand when Mom sees me after the birth and knows the baby is okay, but I didn’t fair too well….
UNDERSTANDING

Discussing the responsibilities of caring for a dog with my older son and shaking hands to seal the deal….
AGREEMENT

Seizing my son’s 16-year-old hand as he is ready to board his plane for Germany and his first big experience without me….
NOT READY

Joining hands around the table as we sit down for our Thanksgiving feast…..
FAMILY

Holding my second son’s little hand as we drive away from the university and he cries for his older brother watching him disappear to a new life through the window of the car……
CHANGE COMES

Arriving just in time to pick up the hand of my grandpa now in a coma….
IT’S OKAY TO LET GO

Taking the hand of my grandmother when I visit her because she’s on her own now.…
THE HUMAN TOUCH

Squeezing the hand of my new daughter at my oldest son’s wedding.…
ONE MORE PERSON TO LOVE

Fearing to hurt, I oh-so-lightly brush the pads of my fingers across the back of the hand of my youngest son’s 10-year-old, cancer-ridden friend, now bald and pale with translucent skin wrapped around thin bones. His breathing is labored – so shallow. It’s been a short fight and he’s leaving us……
BECAUSE WORDS FAIL

Tightly gripping hands with the mother of this withered child knowing that God is waiting to receive him…..
REASSURANCE

Offering my hand for my young son to lead me onto the dance floor at his ballroom dancing class….
PRIDE

Holding the hand of my grandmother in hospital knowing it’s the last time….
SHE IS NOT ALONE

Taking Mom’s hand as she buries her mother….
SYMPATHY

Squeezing Mom’s hand and touching her face after her stroke…
BECAUSE I STILL CAN

Holding my little boy’s hands as he says good-bye to his dog….
EMPATHY

My young son’s trembling hand reaching out when his birthday arrives to shake the miniature paw of his gift – a tiny, 5-pound puppy….
A NEW BEGINNING

Allowing me to crush his hand with both of mine and wrapping his other arm around me, my husband and I stand on top of the Eiffel Tower in the face of my fear….
SUPPORT

Beginning with a handshake when I meet my new neighbor after I move to a new place…
WELCOME

My husband takes my hand as we drive down the road….
TOGETHER

MY GAME OF LIFE (CLUB PROMPT – FAMILY GAMES)

I can really associate the names of games with parts of my life.

Thinking back on my childhood, I’d have to say the best game name that comes to mind is CHUTES AND LADDERS. Most days were good. In school and other places, sometimes there was a chance to ‘climb a ladder’ and achieve a new level or stand out. For me, that place was the band. But as with everyone, there were days that were not so great like when I got bronchitis or had chicken pox.   That’s when I’d slide down the chutes of life and not be so happy.

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I remember a game called COOTIES and for sure back in elementary school we girls never wanted to catch COOTIES from the boys. It made for great times at recess as we’d run screaming away to avoid this dastardly imagined infection from any boy who dared approach.

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I remember sleepovers for birthdays and other such events with friends and gaggles of giggling girls all over the floor. We climbed over each other, laughing and running back and forth, eating, talking, playing games, etc.   Looking back on that now, I’m reminded of the game name BARREL OF MONKEYS, though the sleepovers were always more fun.

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I remember the first time I wore high heels.   I wasn’t very good at walking in them.   I reminded myself of when I was younger and played with ROMPER STOMPERS. That’s about what I looked like.   Actually, I’m not sure I really ever got good at heels.   Romper Stompers may be the better idea for some of us – at least I got good at those!

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Sometimes people tell me things and then they want me to keep it to myself. How many times I almost trip up on something only to remember in the nick of time I’m not supposed to tell!   I always think of the game name DON’T SPILL THE BEANS when this happens.

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The period directly before our move here I would have to say bears a close resemblance to the game of PERFECTION (the game itself, NOT the game name!)

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In this game, you are trying to beat the clock by arranging geometric shapes into their proper places on the spring board before the timer runs out. When the timer runs out, the spring releases under the board, the board pops up, and all the pieces go flying.   I can honestly say that’s what last year felt like.   The life I carefully built and lived for 20 years all went awry and when all the pieces landed, I was living on the Eastern Shore.   I’m still not sure how it all happened.

I guess that leads me to another game name I could use to describe my mindset about my life of late….BOGGLE.

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As my husband and I try to find our footing and determine our next step, it does seem the impossible task to find one place that is going to give us all what we need.  This brings to mind another game from our generation….the RUBIK’S CUBE where you try and get all the right pieces in all the right places with a limited number of options on how the pieces can move.

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Sometimes I still wish I had that MAGIC 8-BALL so I could ask it what to do or what will happen next when life gets confusing.

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Usually, I really don’t have a CLUE.

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Lately, after this long, long winter and all the issues two homes and 3 lives could possibly have in one overly long season, I could use the game name AGGRAVATION to describe my experiences.

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 And yet, there is always one day of the week that I always look forward to – PAY DAY. I loved that game, keeping track of debits and credits and so on.   It’s really a shame that balancing a checkbook isn’t nearly as much fun. Though it is interesting to note that I ended up being a hotel auditor for a dozen years.   I wonder if this game had anything to do with it?

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I remember Sunday afternoons with Dad reading his Sunday paper and stealing the comics section and using my SILLY PUTTY to lift the pictures onto the putty.

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I also associate some names of games with people in my life.

Little children remind me so much of WEEBLES, the little figures that would webble and wobble but don’t fall down. Indeed, it seems that anything that goes wrong in a child’s world from learning to walk, falling down, or riding a bike, or anything else that knocks them over for a minute just propels them more and makes them try harder.   That seems to be one of the things we adults have a hard time hanging onto when things get tough.15

Trying to deal with the needs of a teen, a baby, and a husband in addition to the rest of the world always made me feel like STRETCH ARMSTRONG. I’m not sure he really counts as a game, but I really can relate to the feeling of being held by arms and legs and being pulled well beyond my limits!

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Trying to feed that teen, baby, and husband, I can calmly state two games that I bring to mind: MR. MOUTH and HUNGRY, HUNGRY HIPPOS!

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My husband works in the operating room all day.  (I should’ve known how this life would turn out when he proposed to me in front of a hospital!)  So of course the game I associate with him has to be OPERATION. I also remember him playing with our oldest son when he was young with 2 small Playmobil building sets, both of which contained parts of rooms in the hospital.

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When I think of my Dad, I remember his old, old game called ELECTRIC BINGO which he stored in the attic in its original box and only brought down once in a blue moon.   He then stood over us to make sure that no harm came to his ‘wonderful’ toy.   I think it’s actually still in the attic now, though I know it’s been brought out when the grandchildren visit too.

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I remember my niece spending time at our house and how strange it was to have a girl child that didn’t eat every morsel of food put in front of her. That’s not ever the case in a house of boys! As time went on, she started to eat more and keep up with my youngest son. One day, she even took food off my plate when I had my head turned.   At that point, I gave her the nickname from an old game (and movie) I remembered….JAWS.   She laughed and laughed about this.

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When I think of my oldest son, the game that comes to mind always has to be MONOPOLY. He was really into this game when he was 4 or 5 and even went so far as to be the MONOPOLY Man on Halloween.   He was quite thrilled to win a costume contest that year. This was back in the early 90s when we were still the trendsetters with this costume idea.

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Watching my young son now in the midst of his quest for young female attention, it brings to mind DON’T BREAK THE ICE.

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Luckily for us, he’s still unsure about what to do beyond working up the nerve to talk with them and he’s very careful about things right now thinking more than doing and tentatively taking his first steps toward making an open admission about liking someone specific.   In this realm, he’s not much into taking RISK.

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I have memories of my aunts at their house playing TWISTER of all things and indeed that’s how they actually are, even all grown up and living their own lives, they’re still all quite happily twisted up with each other and have very little mental distance between them even through marriages, children, grandchildren, death, divorces, house moves, etc.

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These are some memories in my GAME OF LIFE.

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(Random credits given for images obtained from image searches on the Internet.   The only pic that is actually mine is my son up there as the Monopoly Man.)

SCREENAGER (CLUB PROMPT – FAMILY GAMES)

I am the mother of a screenager. That’s right. I said screenager, not teenager. A screenager is someone who has grown up in a digital landscape and spends most of their time in a digital world. When my second son was born in 1999, the Internet was just taking on life as a new way of doing things. But for Spencer and people born after him, the Internet wasn’t a new thing, it was just a thing that was always there. Having a screenager is a new experience for us. When our first son was at home, we didn’t even get a computer until he was in third grade. That computer wasn’t hooked up to the Internet for a long time and when it was, it wasn’t the experience kids today have on it. There were precious few sites for social networking at that time and connection and processor speeds were slow enough to make it a pretty frustrating and time-consuming experience trying to use the Internet in any useful way. But, fast forward a few years and the changes were huge! Not only is the internet accessible, but it’s now the way most people shop, communicate, research, interact, send and receive mail, look up phone numbers and addresses, make phone calls, and even do their banking. This is the landscape that Spencer has grown up in and boy does it move!

When I was a child, my life was predictable and routine. Unlike a lot of kids today, I grew up in the same house with both of my actual parents. I used my imagination to entertain myself when I was on my own, rode my bike, went swimming, had dinner with the family at 5.30p every night during the week when Dad got home from work. My social networking included: spending time with friends, playing with my siblings, having sleepovers, going to school, going to church and going out to dinner afterwards, and going to camp in the summers. Computers were basically unheard of in those years. Actually, I remember my Dad making me do math problems longhand instead of using a calculator saying, “You might not always have a calculator handy!”

My son’s life, however, is drastically different. The routine in his life is constant change. The technology he’s got in the palm of his hand is more than I ever could have imagined. On one device, he can tell you the weather in any location in the world, how long it would take you to get there, the customs of that area, the population, what kind of clothes to take, the best and least expensive way to get there, and plot a trip for you complete with car and hotel rentals setup, plane tickets bought, reservations made for dinner and a show, and tickets sent to that device all in about 7 minutes. This is not my world.

In my world, we played games growing up. We had games we played on our own like LEMON TWIST or ROMPER STOMPERS and we had board games we played with other people like MONOPOLY or CLUE. Some wonderful times were had when Dad would hit us fly balls to catch in the backyard or Mom would sit down for a game of Aggravation.

In Spencer’s world though, board games or even word games we used to play like I Spy or Hangman are archaic. I really have to struggle to get these in his realm. It was easier when he was little and I had a lot of control over what he did. I would sit down and play games with him like Ants in the Pants or Don’t Spill the Beans. But, though I fight its encroachment on our family life at every opportunity, the Internet has beaten me it seems. Now, they carry all their games around on their devices and there’s another way to play games now playing online with “friends.” I’m sorry. I have a problem with thinking of a person you’ve never met, never spoken to, and have no idea of their life situation as a ‘friend.’ But you see, that’s because I’m a Digital Immigrant and not a Digital Native like Spencer. A Digital Immigrant, I’m told, is someone who didn’t grow up in this digital landscape.

These I-Generation kids are used to information that comes flying at them from all directions from the moment they get up in the morning until the minute they fall asleep at night. They’re used to a lot more stimulation than we were. They’re a lot more expecting and a lot more demanding of their world. This could actually be a good thing. Generations that expect and demand generally create much change in their lifetimes. For all that we hear people bemoan the perils of the I-Generation, these kids are smart…probably smarter than us. Indeed, their brains are actually wiring themselves differently than ours adapting to the new world they inhabit. They can multi-task at a very young age. They can process information and make decisions in a snap. They aren’t scared to experiment with technology or anything else and they go out and find what they want to know faster than any of us ever could have using our encyclopedias or making a trip to the library. They deal with and understand a far-larger and more complex social network than we ever did and they learn (if they’re lucky) to consider possible long-term consequences of that far-reaching network out there much younger than us. If they have questions, they ferret out answers quite quickly. Finally, almost intuitively, they adapt to new things that come into their cyber world and under their power. I think that’s better than most of us do at this point with our fumbling thumbs and fingers trying desperately to make the small keys on our cell phones work or trying urgently to type e-mails and remembering what to click or how to attach or forward. For those of us raised on handwriting and licking stamps, the slickness of e-mail doesn’t seem real. It makes it hard for us to remember what we’ve already sent and who’s seen what.

But still, even using my digital cameras, my desktop computer, my touch-screen laptop, my mobile, and my GPS in the truck, in the end, I am still that immigrant to this digital world. I try and share with my son some games from the good old days when we go on ski trips to the resort where we sit around after a home-cooked dinner in our condo playing a family game of cards or 20 Questions or when we’re driving and I can regale him with a good game of Slug Bug or License Plates. But in the end, he is a Digital Native. His default is the world he was born into and he’s developing the skills to carry him forward into the world he’s going out into someday soon. I won’t be left behind so much as I’ll just not as progress as quickly as he does. But when the grandchildren come, I hope my boys know I’ll be sitting here waiting with some FaceTime just for them. My version of FaceTime…one-on-one, getting to know them and telling them stories about a world they can’t even imagine by then. Maybe we’ll even play a few card games just for the heck of it, huh?