Saturday, September 06, 2008

Memory games

I couldn't believe it. Last Sunday, Sarita and I went up to Boulder to attend Jonadab's dedication. After church, then, we spent the afternoon with Phil and Amy's family.

To the children, Sarita and I are "Grandma and Grandpa Far Away." Their other grandparents are "Grandma and Grandpa Super Far Away."

Grandma and Grandpa Super Far Away have been visiting for the last month or so. At one point late in the afternoon, their grandparents were talking and I was told that Jadon, 6 years old and Amy and Phil's oldest, is a master at the Bob the Builder® Memory game.

"Oh!" said Grandma Super Far Away, "he beats me all the time at that game. I don't have a chance."

I thought, "Can this really be?"

Jadon to happened to walk by shortly after. "I hear you're very good at Bob the Builder®," I said.

He smiled at me in a humble sort of way. And then, quietly, "Yeah. . . ."

"You want to play?"

"Sure!" he grinned.

He took me down to the basement. And, as we prepared the game, he explained how to play it.

We poured out the pieces. We placed them face-down on the floor, mixed them up thoroughly, and slid them into a nice, rectangular matrix with a few left over. That was odd! Indeed, so odd, I counted them: 68 pieces in all, 34 matched pairs of images. [According to the manufacturer's description, a set should have 72 pieces.]

We began taking turns flipping cards face upward, two at a time, seeing if we could find matched pairs. If we found a pair, we would get to keep the cards and go again until we didn't make a match. If we didn't find a match, we had to turn the cards back over, face-down, and let the other player have his turn.

Jadon got the first pair. He got the second pair, too. And the third. I think he had about eight sets before I got my first.

Final score at the end of the first game: John, 20 matched cards; Jadon, 48.

I thought, "Okay, he has some advantages. For example, he knows all the characters by name. I had never seen them before in my life. Another advantage: each character seems to have two or three unique cards. Thus, while I am looking at 'the orange truck with lots of tires,' he already knows that character's name is, say, Muck, and if there is a big picture of Muck and a smaller one."

But even ignoring these advantages, I realize he was doing things I would never dream of achieving. At the moment when I am realizing, "Oh! We've seen that particular card before," Jadon is chuckling, reaches down and turns a card over whose location I couldn't remember for the life of me.

Over and over this happened. I would be barely remembering we had seen the card before or, at best, I'd be thinking, "Oh, it's somewhere over here"--yet with no real idea of which one of six to nine cards it might be, and Jadon would be chuckling and turning the card over with confidence. Those are behaviors not of luck but of memory. And my memory was failing me . . . or, at least, compared to Jadon, my memory was failing! He was doing brilliantly!

Oh. One more thing. Several spaces would open up in the middle of our matrix, and there would be a few cards sitting on the periphery. Without warning, Jadon would pick up the peripheral cards, and place them in the center, to fill in the gaps. I could never remember whether we had looked at those cards before. I don't know whether Jadon knew. But that kind of rearrangement didn't seem to bother him.

We played a second game. Final score: John, 26 matched cards; Jadon, 42.

In the third game. Final score: John, 22 cards; Jadon, 46.

How did he do it? I have no idea! But I think he has a gift, a gift of memory. I hope he will use it as a blessing for the world!
blog comments powered by Disqus