“Apples to Apples is boooooorrinnnnggggg!”
Finding a game everyone wants to play often proves challenging, but on this day I thought I had something we’d all agree on: I’d found an “Apples to Apples” box, a word game in which players match noun and action cards to adjectives before deciding whose card best fits the given adjective. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and I imagined the kids would love the debates it generates. For example, if the given adjective was “slippery,” one might overhear “Starfish are the most slippery!” “No, they’re all rough and covered with bumps! Sponges are way more slippery.” “You’re both wrong! Those things both have to be wet to be slippery. Banana peels are slippery no matter what!” ...And so on until the judge of that round chose a winner.
For the most part, the kids proved me right, and occupied most of the classroom floor with the game. One boy, however, would not be won over so easily. “I’ve tried it befoooorrree! It’s boriiiiiiing!” he complained. “Can’t we do something else?”
I explained to him that everyone else was happy playing this game, and asked if he could give it one more try. “Maybe you’ll like it better this time, since it’s with a big group of your friends,” I suggested. He didn’t budge. I gave him his journal and sent him to the table in the corner, where he scribbled and doodled halfheartedly.
Out of the corner of his eye, though, he watched his friends laugh on the floor. When the next word came up and someone played a suggestion, he called out, “Trees aren’t twisted! Seaweed is way more twisted!” I asked him again if he wanted to join in. He said no, and I asked him, in that case, to not interrupt the game.
Fast forward a few days. It’s lunchtime, and in the library, some kids gather around a table to play Apples to Apples. He sits with them, bouncing lightly up and down, anticipation for the game to begin rising off his back like steam. Next to him sits a boy with whom he occasionally clashes. The two of them might have another disagreement later on today, but for this hour, the game brings them together.
He turns his head as I approach, looking up at me with his big mischievous grin. “I like this game now,” he says. I tell him I’m glad he gave it another try. Then he turns back to it, shouting, “Ooh! Ooh! Fire trucks are way tougher than school buses!”