DinnerTable“Come prepared for crazy and practice your Spanish so you can talk to ….”

This is part of the text I received after letting a friend from church know I’d accept her kind invitation to join her, her family, and other friends for Thanksgiving.

What did I text back? “Oh no! I was afraid of this. I don’t do crazy well and I don’t know any Spanish. I will survive.”

“Yes you will! Ha ha ha”

“I trust you and I’m looking forward to it.”

I really meant that. If I didn’t trust my friend, I wouldn’t have accepted the invitation. I knew her husband and her mom and had some brief encounters with two of her adult children. I wanted to meet the other two so this was a great time to do that.

After a fabulous meal and rich conversations, we gathered together and I knew it was about time to play a game. I like some games. I dislike others.

They chose one I knew I would dislike. I was able to observe without being hassled. They didn’t make me feel bad. They didn’t make a big deal out of it. I was safe. I stayed in the room and enjoyed watching others have fun.

You know what’s fascinating? It was “Catch Phrase,” a game that uses words. You’d think a word-smart person like me who makes a living using words would like a game that uses words.

Not necessarily.

There are a number of reasons. For instance, this game requires guessing or predicting. I don’t like guessing or predicting about anything. It feels risky to me. My learning styles combine so that being exact is my comfort zone. I have to be careful that perfectionism doesn’t set in. (I still laugh sometimes when I think about me writing a book that includes a lot about the dangers of perfectionism.)

Thinking quickly isn’t easy for me and this was a timed game. I can brainstorm creatively when I’ve had time to think in advance and when I’m not rushed. Spontaneous thinking isn’t my strength.

If you’ve heard me teach, you’ve probably heard me proclaim that too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. All the words in my head might have also contributed to this game being stressful and not fun.

Choosing games and activities for others isn’t always easy. Some word-smart people love “Catch Phrase.” Some don’t. Some picture-smart children and adults like “Pictionary.” Others don’t. Some music-smart children want to perform in front of others. Some don’t.

As we purchase gifts for others this month, let’s be careful. When we plan gatherings over the Christmas and New Year’s weeks, let’s be considerate.

Let’s not assume. Let’s observe carefully and even ask questions so we can help children be safe. Not just feel safe, but actually be safe. Using multiple intelligences wisely can contribute to this reality.

We can choose games and activities that fit children well. And, we can let them disengage when they prefer. As long as they don’t always disengage, I think it’s fine. They can stay in the room and be respectful. Forcing them to participate in things that increase their stress and make them feel insecure usually isn’t wise. Of course, the same thing can be said for adults.

Hopefully December will be full of many “I trust you and I’m looking forward to it” experiences.