Family and/or Autobiography

Don’t Ask Me What Zombies Have to Do With It. I Have No Idea.

Try shuffling this deck.
Good luck shuffling this.

A recent study suggests that disorganized people are more creative than organized people.

In other words, I am the least creative person in my house.

My seven-year-old son is at the top of the creative heap. He achieves this by creating creative heaps all around his room. His invented games are, I admit, ingenious. Sadly, they also require hundreds of parts from dozens of different sources.

Rocks? Check.

Marbles? Check.

Individual Legos, handpicked from different sets? Check.

Every refrigerator magnet in the house? Check.

The battleships from Battleship? Check.

Broken toys – including that whoopee cushion with a hole in it that his dad told him to throw out last year? Seriously, boy, what’s the point of a whoopee cushion that can’t make any noise? Check!

It should come as little surprise that my son and I also have very different interpretations of the word “straighten,” as in, “Straighten your room.”

My “straighten” is defined as, “Put every single solitary thing away forever.” His definition is, “Consolidate the six or eight smallish piles of stuff into one, four-foot-tall pile of stuff. Then shove that pile of stuff into the mathematical center of the room.”

But, hey, the boy is creative. One day, Alex noticed that war (the card game, that is) was an excruciating bore. Many, many years ago, when I made this same discovery, I abandoned war forever and did something tidy. Alex is cut from a different cloth, however; he decided to take a crack at improving the game. He searched the house for every deck of cards we have and became the sole inventor of Nine-Deck Zombie Super War 4000.  To play, you need five decks of regular playing cards, two Uno decks (one being a dog-eared deck from the early1980s and the other a contemporary waterproof deck that you can play in the tub) a deck of war cards featuring characters from the movie Cars, and The Mad Magazine Card Game.

The rules and scoring system are, I think, a bit too involved, complicated, and convoluted to mention here (think 43-Man Squamish). I will say, however, that it takes about 15 minutes to purge all of the decks of the unnecessary cards and nearly another ten minutes to shuffle the massive, irregular deck that remains. Once you’re done playing the game, it takes another 15 minutes to put all the cards back where they belong.

The actual game takes about maybe four minutes.

But I am surprised to say that I don’t mind any of this, really. Nine-Deck Zombie Super War 4000 caters to our strengths: Alex gets to stimulate his creative instincts by making up rules and creating random piles of cards, and I get to sate my OCD urges by sorting the cards into rigid, properly sanctioned piles.

And of course there is that Father And Son Thing. I love that Father And Son Thing.

Once the game is over, Alex will help put the cards back in their proper piles without complaint, but mostly he keeps me company while I take on the lion’s share of the work. Straightening up is what I do best, after all. And organizing things while chatting with my boy puts me in the happiest of my happy moods.

Sometimes while we peek under the couch for stray cards, we even kick around a few picture book story ideas. Because, well, according to documented research, I need all the help I can get.

Alfred E