Family game night with the Cawoods

Note to those who follow my blog: I am dialing it back this week with something light.

Last week, over Thanksgiving, the Cawood family did what it does best: let all of our personality traits “shine” while playing Guesstures. We subjected husbands and two of my brother-in-law’s nieces to this. And just so you don't worry: everyone survived. 

If you don’t know the game, here’s how it goes: it’s like charades, but timed. You draw four cards, and each card has two words or phrases to choose from (worth different points—an easier word/phrase earns you fewer points). You must pantomime one word/phrase from each card, and if your team calls out the right word, you must pluck the card from a mechanical box before said box swallows the card, which it does one card at a time. This box ticks rather loudly, I might add, further raising one’s stress level. The first card takes a while to fall into the abyss, but once the first card drops, you know the death of the others is a few ticks away. In other words, it’s not a good game if you suffer from heart issues, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, glossophobia, or depression and anxiety. But for everyone else, it’s a blast!

My sister’s Guesstures box looked fairly beaten up, some of its cardboard sides falling off. She’s owned it many years. My family has been playing this game for so long that I also own the game, as do my parents, thus a Guesstures box can be pulled out at any holiday or vacation, or at any moment we want to humiliate each other.

See? It’s family fun!

Last week when we played, I noticed how we each Cawood member has honed his/her way to play the game best. My father is careful and precise in his pantomimes, and once his team guesses the right word, he very carefully stops and picks the card out of the mechanical box. The rest of us aim to do that, but the Cawood women tend to flail a little more, and our enthusiasm sometimes means the card drops. Which means we women let out a little “Agh!” 

Okay, it’s actually more like a scream. 

Okay, it is a scream. 

My sister considers her gestures very carefully, as is her personality. She’s an analytical one, and she’s also always been the best imitator of people (she is great with imitating accents, walks, movements), so she comes up with ways to gesture that I couldn’t have thought of even if you had given me hours to dwell on it. My mind is more like a small cage, while hers is more like an endless field of possibilities. You can see why she’s the psychologist, PhD, and I’m, well, not.

My mother likes to win. We all like to win, but my mother especially, so when it’s her turn, she is super-focused and likes to tell her team members, “I’m going to go right to it!” She also tends to jump when her team gets it right, something I have to say makes the whole game worth it. And when someone else has failed to gesture a word or phrase in a way that his/her team has guessed, my mother inevitably asks, “What was your other word choice?” and then gives her opinion on whether that other word choice might have been easier, i.e., better.

I have discovered in watching myself guess for other people that I tend to repeat myself. That is, I shout, “Kite! Kite!” and then, even when the person has not signaled that “Kite” is the right word, I yell it again, but louder. Do I think the gesturer has a hearing problem, or is it that deep down I have a need to shout over my other teammates to be heard? I think they call this Little Sister Syndrome, but I’m afraid to WebMD it. 

And all the Cawood members—okay, just the women (my dad’s coming off as a saint here)—tell the gesturer who has failed how she/he might have pantomimed differently to elicit the correct response. Because we can all do it better than however the person did it. And isn’t it good manners to help the person for the next time they have that word, a year or two or three from now, or never?

See? It’s family fun!

We managed to keep the husbands, and the nieces? They left a few days later. We’ll see if they come back.