The Game of Life
Our family’s favourite game at the moment is the Game of Life.
That ’80s classic board game, which I in turn loved as a child.
It’s a great allegory for this game… we call life. We take it all so seriously. But it is just a game in the end … we spin the spinner, sometimes we race forwards, otherwise creep slowly, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Marriage, kids, money, careers, come our way, or are taken away.
I play it differently, as an adult, than I did as a child. A little more philosophically. But still… I don’t want to lose.
None of us do.
We play it in quite a different way with our children (8,6 and 4) in 2014 than I did as a child. A way I could have never conceived of in the 80s.
Instead of automatically being assigned a pink or blue peg according to the anatomy they were born with, our kids choose their colour… This might sound trivial, but we try to allow our children to find their own way to express their identities, and felt sense of self, independent of social gender constructs. All the while discussing the issue of social perception and judgement with them. Our boy at the age of 7 chose to grow his hair long, it is half way down his back now, and almost daily he is mistaken for a girl. He is philosophical about it. He has his own internal reasons for wanting his hair long and is not going to be shifted by the discomfort of others. His favourite colours are orange and blue… but he says he likes pink too.
Our youngest girl has often been mistaken for a boy. She lives in jeans and corduroy trousers, her hair is the shortest of all the kids, and she loves dinosaurs, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine. Her favourite colours are blue and green. But she is very clear she is not a tom boy. This is just what she likes.
Our middle girl has a dress only policy. The pinker and frillier the better. Barbie dolls and Disney Princesses all the way. She also loves art with a passion I recognise. And digging mines in the garden. Her pretty dresses are usually covered in paint and mud… which is… in my humble opinion, exactly the way it should be.
So once you’ve picked your identity… and the colour of your car… you’re on the start line…
So first you have to choose… just like in real life – 25K of debt… but a bigger choice of careers open to you… or risking a crappy paid starting job… but start earning straight away. My husband and I were University all the way people, in life… and the game… but now we see the big benefits to diving straight into life.
It’s still a little old fashioned so marriage ALWAYS comes before kids… but then… bring the kids on! Or perhaps not. Whether you have them, or how many is up to the wheel of fate… as we know from our own experience.
So marriage… in the 2014 version, they choose the gender of their partners. As a child I always got myself a husband when I reached the enforced marriage bit. I’m not sure I even knew what gay was aged 7… But our kids do… they know and accept gay partnerships as a normal form of human coupling. Gay weddings are de rigeur in our Game of Life…
Then it’s regular pay days. Big expenses that wallop you when you least expect them….
Then, just as everything feels like its going smoothly…
Know the feeling?!
And right at this point you start acquiring…
I’m embarrassed to admit we have yet to get our own oil well yet IRL – but obviously we have a fine collection of antiques, racehorses and Rolls Royces, not to mention the beach villa and private jet… so we can still be friends, right?
So playing it with my kids, I see mapped out ahead of them this Western capitalist map, of all the twists and turns of a Western capitalist life, and the passive role that they are expected to play – drive your car, do what you’re told, when you’re told… All so astutely put down in the 80s heyday of our culture… What bothers me is it’s all about the money, money, money… and blind fate… and conventional careers.
We all love it… sure… but I’m wondering an alternative version… one which reflects more truly who we are as a family. A transition times version of the Game of Life.
- Start a commune, add an extra person to your coconut oil powered tuk-tuk
- Conscious Uncoupling – pay 50,000 for mediation and therapy
- Start growing your own veg – receive 2,000
- Leave your kids unvaccinated – pay 5,000 fine
- Plant a forest, have an extra go
- Start homeschooling – take a new career card
- Your book appears on Oprah, receive 100,000
- Karma bites your ass, miss a go
- Spend 10,000 on a Vision Quest
- Your windfarm is successful – receive 150,000
- Cannabis is legalised – spend 2,000 on a party to celebrate
- Give away a status symbol and have another go
- Swap places with someone else – learn compassion!
I might even put stickers over some of the more “traditional” squares… what would YOU suggest for some other great alternative spaces?