It was time to turn off the news. All day, for 2 days, Fox News had been filling the living room with pictures of utter devastation in Japan. We had come to the point of “disaster saturation.” What does it mean when you can tick off multiple cases of “disaster saturation” in just one decade? That I’m old, worldly, or what? I can distinctly recall reaching a point at which I was compelled to call a news blackout after the 9/11 attacks, the December 2004 Indonesia tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina. In the first 2 instances, the children were so young that I couldn’t bear for them to see the pictures of the tremendous death and destruction. For Katrina and for the Japanese disaster, they were/are old enough to comprehend the enormity of the crises. But that certainly doesn’t mean they are prepared to endure a non-stop news broadcast of the misery. I know I’m not prepared.
The weird thing is that it’s hard to explain to the kids just how big, how menacing, the prospect of a nuclear disaster is. As a child of the 80’s (I guess that makes me a Gen-Xer), I recall the threat of the Cold War. I remember watching that made-for-TV movie, “The Day After,” about a nuclear strike on the United States. Both of my kids were born after the Berlin Wall came down, and Communism fell apart. The term “nuclear winter” doesn’t carry a lot of meaning for them. The best I can do is try to explain the science. Well, actually, I know nothing about the science and completely defer to Darling Husband on that. I can also try to explain the sad irony of a potential nuclear nightmare in Japan, of all places, which already suffered through 2 nuclear nightmares over 60 years ago.
So what do you do to try to normalize the weekend a bit? Pictionary. As if the world coming apart at the seams (literally) wasn’t enough, our little household has been racing around from baseball to karate to the SAT!!! to Youth Group and beyond. It seemed like a good night to stay home and play board games. We have had Pictionary Junior for years. It’s labelled ages 8-12, so recently I figured we had all outgrown it. I bought original Pictionary, which is labelled simply for “Adults.” I’ll just say that there is quite a leap between the age 12 level and the Adult level games.
The makers of original Pictionary are evil. There’s no other explanation. It is just not possible to draw the expression “warm up.” Start with a thermometer, I decide. From that, we get to hot. So far, so good. But from there, we’re flailing out of control from hot to mercury to heat wave. I didn’t even get the chance to draw “up.”
And kids between the ages of 13 and around 17 have no business playing Pictionary. Or so the evil minions who write the categories must have decided. After all, what teenager is dorky enough to spend Saturday night at home playing board games? I know this because there is no way on this earth that a teenager can come up with a way to draw–or interpret a drawing of– “corporate ladder” or “business card.” And there’s something just plain sad about a kid trying to illustrate “ex-wife.”
Still, the evening was a success. There was bellyaching laughter all around. I spoke words to Junior about his interpretation of the clues that I thought would never apply to a teenage boy: “Son, you’re thinking too much.” Dad and SuzyQ were high-fiving each other. All was right with the world at least for a couple of hours in our living room.