Thursday, March 9, 2017

Zoe vs. Games to Play in the Car. Or, How to Be DRIVEN to Madness in 20 Questions or Less

Lately, Zoe, the Husband, and I have been spending a lot of time on the road. Unusual for us since we don't own a car. In fact, I've never owned a car.
(Unless you count my dad's 1974 Chevy Nova, which he sold to me for $1 in December 1999, and which didn't make it across the finish line to the new millennium, so let's not.)
We live in the city and take public transportation. Whenever we need a car we rent one, so we've mostly missed out on the perils and pitfalls of driving with children: the sedimentary layer of toys beneath the layer of Cheerios, dropped down or vomited up, and perhaps worse than all that, Kidz Bop.
However, we've had to drive back and forth from Brooklyn to the Bronx for the past several weekends since we're cleaning out my aunts' house, which means Zoe has spent a lot more time in a car than she's used to. Since she's older now, we can't count on her to fall asleep, so we play games.
Ah, nostalgia! Remember the fun you had as a kid playing the Alphabet Game and the License-Plate Game and I Spy with My Little Eye? Zoe does not like these games.
Not that I Spy would work on the BQE. What is there to spy except other cars or trucks and former raccoons flattened on the side of the road?
How to describe the BQE for those who've never been on it . . . The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was probably a model for a highway in Grand Theft Auto. There's a plethora of potholes outpacing the never-ending road work, and the drivers don't signal because it's none of your goddamn business what they're going to do---it's anyone's guess, which appeals to Zoe.
Because she likes guessing games.

20 Questions and other games to play in the car

One of the two car games she likes to play is Twenty Questions. Though she doesn't understand how to play.
Let's say it's my turn and I tell her I'm thinking of a character in one of her TV shows. For those playing at home, I'll whisper the answer:
Kion is Simba's son, and he's on Disney's The Lion Guard, which Zoe watches almost every night.
Zoe: Who is it?
Me: You have to ask me yes or no questions. Like, is it an animal?
Zoe: Is it an animal?
Me: Yes.
Zoe: What kind of animal?
Me: Is that a yes or no question?
Zoe: Aah, that's too hard!
Me (sighing): For instance, is it a lion?
Zoe: Is it a lion?
Me: Yes.
Zoe: Kion? (I nod.) That was too easy.
It's no less absurd when it's her turn.
Zoe: I'm thinking of a person.
Me: Is it someone we know?
Zoe: Yes.
Me: Is it Daddy?
Zoe: Daddy's not a princess.
Daddy (under his breath): Says you.
Me: Ah, so it's a princess. Wait, we don't know any princesses.
Zoe: Yes, we do!
Daddy: Is it a cartoon princess?
Zoe: What do you mean?
Daddy: Cartoon or live actor?
Zoe: She was in a movie.
Me: Have you seen the movie?
Zoe: Yes.
Daddy: Have we seen the movie?
Zoe: I don't know.
Me: A short blonde who's extremely frustrating.
Zoe: We're not playing Jeopardy, Mommy!
Daddy: Does she have long hair?
Zoe: Yes.
Daddy: Rapunzel?
Zoe: Yes, Tangled.
(Note: Both Daddy and Mommy have seen Tangled about a gazillion times, approximately all of those sitting right next to her on our couch.)
The second car game she likes is Wheel of Fortune, where we have to guess what person, place, or phrase she's thinking of without the aid of paper or an opponent who can spell, but with the benefit of being stuck in traffic.
Luckily, even with her woeful ability to spell, cracking her code is fairly easy.
"I'm thinking of a type of dinner," Zoe says. "Three words. First word starts with s, second word starts with a, and third word starts with m."
"How many letters in the first word?" Daddy asks.
"I don't know," says Zoe.
But since she just ate spaghetti and meatballs for dinner I offer that as a guess. And I am correct. Go, Mommy (metaphorically speaking, as traffic has come to a standstill).
Since Mommy got it right, it's time to play something she wants to play, I tell her. It's called the Quiet Game.
Unfortunately it's a game that only ever lasts ten seconds.

Zoe: 158; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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