Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Life Is Like a Game of Candy Land



Image credit Peggy Dembicer

“Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates,” said Forrest Gump in the 1994 film. Yeah, well I think it’s more like a game of Candy Land.

We’ve been averaging about three games a day in our house ever since the kids got the board game for Christmas. And every game the rules change depending on who has the deck of cards.


“I go first, and I get the ice-cream card,” Katherine informs me. “Then you go, and you get the gingerbread card, okay?” She tucks the gingerbread card in back of the ice-cream card in the big pile on my bedroom floor.

“That’s not how the game works,” I explain. “You have to shuffle the cards so that you don’t know what you’re getting … That’s part of the fun.”

“But what if I get all the way to Snow Flake Lake and then I pick the gingerbread man and have to go back all those spaces?” My 5-year-old is clearly petrified, as she should be, because that is certainly a possibility.

She thinks a moment and then asks me, “Well if I pick the gingerbread, will you go back with me, so that I’m not alone?” She flashes the droopy, puppy-dog eyes that she saves for such occasions and I am incapable of forming the consonant “n.”


“Sure,” I say, giving into very codependent and enabling behavior.

Eric shakes his head.

“Absolutely not,” he says.

“Look, we play by the rules or we don’t play at all … ”

That directive is followed by thoughts of what beliefs and values comprise our parenting philosophy:

“Do we really want our kids believing that life is like that … one gumdrop and ice-cream card after another if that’s what you order? What happens when she loses her job because the housing market is in the toilet and so therefore has to start scrubbing down her own toilets and eating grilled cheese for dinner?”

He’s got a point.

“All right, then we will only play with these cards,” Katherine says, as she hides all the pink cards (the gingerbread, candy cane, gumdrop, peanut, lollipop, and of course the ice-cream card … the guys with all the power).


“Bring those cards back here,” I tell her.

“They are bad cards,” she explains. “All of them are bad except for the ice-cream.”

Bad? I don’t know about that. Uncertain? Yes. And uncertain can feel bad, especially right now, in this economic crisis when you feel like you were three squares away from Candy Castle (or retirement) only to be sent back to the bloody gingerbread man.

You can be winning the game by twenty squares and then lose a turn because you landed on a licorice space; you may get an unexpected break by landing on the rainbow trail or gumdrop pass, but then your competitor picks the peanut card and gets to hang out in peanut acre while you’re stuck in lollipop woods. It all seems so random, and, on certain days, so unfair.


But maybe that’s the point. To try to enjoy the surprise and try to adjust, ever so gracefully, to the hand of cards we pick.

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  • Shelly

    “But maybe that’s the point. To try to enjoy the surprise and try to adjust, ever so gracefully, to the hand of cards we pick.”



    Great analogy.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sam Gyura

    I’d make the crappest parent of the highest order. I’d say ‘okay’ all the time. Therese, with all due respect….you know I love your articles….but for the love of god STOP QUOTING SHIT MAINSTREAM COMMERCIAL AMERICAN MOVIES!!!!They’re not real. they’re schlock! PLEASE?!

  • Lady Delphinium

    GREAT POST! I love your Candy Land analogy!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Razz2

    Yes….life is exactly like a game of “Candyland”!! You made me smile with this post today, which is a good thing as smiles are in short supply lately. :) Not that I’m getting ALL the BAD cards, but I’m certainly getting my share of them.

    On a side note – I had a 20 yr. career in Early Childhood Education and Rehab. I never waffled on the rules but I was some times very good at cheating so the child could win. Funny thing, none of them ever called me on it!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment JiLLB

    This is a great analogy. You’re so creative, Therese!

    I also laughed and added in (in my overactive brain, of course) that for some of us, life is also like Shoots and Ladders. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a way to mix the two?

    Thanks as always, Therese! I hope you’re feeling better – at least at the very moment you’re reading this, but hopefully for a long, long time :-)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Renee Coppernoll

    Great point!!! I also play candyland about 2-3 times a day in my house. I never thought of that point that uncertainty and unknowing is what scares us. That is when bad decisions and bad judgements can be made because our need to control the situation. Instead of relying on faith and the powers at be we try to play the cards in our favor verus trying to handle obstacles as they come. As a control freak this is something I have been working on vigorously while somedays I win and somedays I don’t. I think as long as we are aware, all we can do is try to follow are hearts.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Anne S.

    Loved your post! Seems as if there can be life lessons in the simplest of things!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gary W.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article. I am a father who is living separately from his 7-year-old son Matthew (He lives with his mother, and his step-sister and her 3-year old boy Christian). Presently I am doing my best to get ready for a mini-vacation with my son, his mother, her sister, and her three teenagers, into the Poconos about two hours away. I will make every attempt to apply your “Candyland” philosophy to the next few days that we spend together, as i feel (as does my estranged wife) that a child’s creative spirit should be allowed to blossom, grow, and flourish… Thanks again for sharing your
    insight so poignantly. :^

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