As a family, we watch a lot of movies. They are almost all comedies (except for the Star Wars Trilogy, on which I have developed a strange adult fixation). For us, movies are a way to relax and a way to connect. We watch tv together, sharing food, laughter, pillows and blankets.
My husband loves to laugh. He does not laugh quietly. He is a “falling off the couch while laughing” kind of guy. And he especially loves any kind of slapstick humor. So when we find a movie that Ben likes, the entire family enjoys it more because of his genuine, childlike enthusiasm and laughter.
Because of Ben’s problems with short-term memory, he doesn’t always remember what movies we’ve watched. So we watch movies repeatedly. A lot. Over and over. Add to that the fact that he has no visual memory, he does not remember movies in the same way that we do. He can remember funny moments. But he can’t remember who said the lines or what movie the lines are from. And if he hears a funny line, he will automatically laugh out loud and say, “What movie is that from? We haven’t seen that movie in a long time.” And the rest of our family will groan….
The other night, I created a game for our family to play. I knew that my game would either make Ben very angry or he would be able to laugh and enjoy the game with us. I didn’t mention anything to Ben ahead of time. I took my cues from how he had been acting all afternoon and at dinner. I took a chance and called the kids together to play a “family trivia game.”
We’ve played family trivia games before, always using Candy Corn as the prize for the winners who get the question right. But instead of asking standard trivia questions (Bible verses, historical facts, movie actors), I called this game “Movie Memory Trivia.” I would quote a line from one of our favorite movies. Ben had to name the movie that the line came from. If he couldn’t, the turn would pass to the kids and they would all yell the name of the movie and receive the candy corn.
Praise God, my husband enjoyed the game.
This game could have come across as mocking Ben’s disability. I certainly did not want to do this. Instead, we ended up laughing together as a family because of something that is unique to us…Ben’s poor memory for movies. This silly game was a time for us to celebrate our unique family culture as we rehearsed dialogue from our favorite comedies and watched Dad convulse with laughter as each time as though it were the first time he heard these lines.
Hidden disabilities can be hard on a family. I am thankful to God that we can still keep our sense of humor and find ways to be at peace with the life and some of the circumstances God has for our family.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
(Psalm 16:5-6 ESV)