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Fun Family Activity: Learning to Read Minds
Like Julie Mangano, a blogger who recently lost her elderly father, and has written eloquently about the grieving process on her blog. In a post called "Driving With Dad," Mangano writes about the special bond she always had with her father, and in particular about a game they used to play: "Very early on in life my dad tried to teach me to read his mind. He created some flashcards with names of colors on them. He would hold up the blank side of the card to me and tell me to close my eyes, focus on what he was thinking (what?) and guess which color was named on the back of the card...After a few hours, I could name the right color every time he held up a different card. In retrospect it probably was more because I learned the patterns he used to switch around the cards and try to trick me... Whatever the reason, our bond was established and we remained deeply in sync for the rest of his life."
What's so great about this game is that somehow IT TOTALLY WORKED. Not the card game (although let's be honest, why do we have children if not to teach a parlor trick or two?) but that in-sync-ness. It substantiates a theory I have about Family Propaganda. For example, I suspect that if we tell our kids enough times that they are best friends with their siblings, that maybe they will subconsciously believe us. All families have some sort of party line, whether they realize it or not -- that grinning gaggle in the matching sweatshirts, like a grotesquely adorable soccer team -- even the grouchy group that cultivates inner rivalries. But what if fathers tell their children, "We are connected. You can read my mind."? What if every parent was so generous with his attention? So open with his thoughts?
As the rest of her (heartbreaking) post reveals, Mangano's relationship with her father wasn't always perfect. But this whole relationship thing, it's not an Olympic sport, now is it? We're not angling for the perfect score. We're just looking for openness, for communication, for love, for, now and then, a little mind-reading. "I get you," we want our loved ones to say. "And you get me."
Read the whole post for Mangano's description of driving with her dad, what his cup of coffee taught her, and for an unforgettable concluding image.
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