The queen of Candy Land has found new realms to conquer.
This is no small statement. You see, our ward Missy is a passionate Candy Land player. She opens up the board with gusto. She draws her cards with undisguised glee. And she wins. And wins. And then goes on to win some more.
At one point, Missy had won nine games in a row, and her overall record still looks like it belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is no small accomplishment when you remember that Candy Land has no choices – you draw one card at a time and move down a single path, an exercise in predestination. It’s like Lotto, only with less chance to influence the victory.
And she wins. And wins. And wins some more.
So did she get bored? Quit while she was ahead? Pfft. Please. This is Missy we’re talking about – the lady who can play Christmas music with relentless cheer through to July 4, only stopping when the disc wears out.
No, only one thing could seduce her onward. The addition of sheer unmitigated chaos.
You see, we recently got something called Magic Maze as part of a Christmas present. It’s a wonderfully silly idea: down-on-their-luck fantasy heroes raid a shopping mall for equipment and then try to get away before security catches them. The board’s discovered in sections, so it’s different every time.
In the simplest version of the game, the mechanics are exactly what Missy’s used to: draw and move and draw again. But now you’re racing a timer. You’re working together. And you’re going a little crazy trying to get everyone where they need to go.
She. Loves. It.
And as the smile grows wider, Missy’s world gets a little bigger.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Missy’s enthusiasms catch fire several times since my wife and I began caring for her … has it really been almost 11 years now? Each new piece gets added with a fierce joy. We’ve watched her become enchanted with Harry Potter, awestruck by Darth Vader, eager to throw a basketball or start up a Face Vocal Band video.
But the really exciting thing is that she rarely abandons an old love. She still dances, still loves familiar faces and places, and when the pandemic eases up enough, I know she’ll be hitting the bowling alley without hesitation. It’s not like fireworks, flashing and burning out at high speed, but more like a bonfire, growing just a little bigger as more fuel is added.
Her capabilities are what they are. Her physical and developmental disabilities are no less real. But within what she can do, she finds new opportunities to discover and grow.
That’s a prize I think all of us would reach for.
Granted, it’s a challenging prize to win these days. Even before the pandemic, it was always tempting to build a bubble, staying with the safe, familiar and comfortable. Now, in a time of constant vigilance, it’s easier than ever to draw in and hold back.
But the fire doesn’t have to die.
The times are what they are. The need to stay safe is no less real. But within those limits, we still have opportunities of our own. We can still open new pieces of our world, find new joys and become a little more than we were before.
It can be an amazing experience.
And speaking of a-Maze-ing, I think Missy’s ready to set up the pieces again.
The game is afoot.