Lifeboat Game

Dear J—

When the kids are fussing in the car, we’ll sometimes break out the lifeboat game, which is something I learned back in grade school from Mr Larson, who played it for a few minutes with the class in order to get us started and thinking about the day. The game is simple and completely verbal; one person makes up a rule and then announces they’re captaining a lifeboat; everyone else is in the water and in order to keep the lifeboat from being swamped by everyone climbing on at the same time, they have to (figuratively) give the lifeboat captain something that conforms with the rule. Mr Larson would then tell us that going by alphabetical order would not be fair, or reverse alphabetical order either, for people at the other end of the alphabet wouldn’t like it much.

The rule can be something simple like first letter matching your name; I, Mike would be able to give a microwave or a microphone or megaphone; you, J— would give a junebug or jonquil or a jet. The real meat of the puzzle, though, was in figuring out why other people had gotten on and, as time wore on and you were stuck in the water, the increasingly broad clues that you’d get. “Well, I can’t take a washtub from you, Mike, but I’d certainly take one from Walter.” figgy is fairly fond of the lifeboat game but the clues she gives are not notably helpful: ”Hmm. Nope. Try something else.” Calcifer, on the other hand, isn’t patient enough to last more than a round or two before we let him on anyway.

I suppose that patience is like a muscle and needs to be trained in order to be useful; as I regularly blow up over small things so he follows that example, growing easily sulky and frustrated over the little things that go wrong instead of saying it’s not a big deal, it’s fixable, we can help and not grow so easily aggravated all the time. We can do it. Together. I’m not setting a good example here, and that’s on me to fix. Once it’s okay to get angry, there’s no turning that around into a spiral of frustration. Yes, we can instead of I can’t standing in for I won’t, or frustration taking the place of action. Get on board.

Mike

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