Escape!

My kids treated me to an escape room over the weekend. Normally, they put 8 people in the room and leave the group to figure out how to get out. We got lucky(?) and weren’t stuck in tight spaces with four other strangers. Since it was just us, I really learned a lot about my family.

They call it a room, but it’s really a series of rooms. The first one was about the size of a master closet - just enough room for the four of us to move around without constantly bumping into each other. It was there that we faced our first real challenge.

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The goal was to get a combination to open a case and I figured out pretty quickly that the clues were on laminated cards. The trick was to find the cards. I found one, my daughter found another. It took a hint from the game master to find the third. The thing is, at least three people had searched the spot where it was hidden. It was lying flat on an upper shelf and it was just smooth enough to match the wood fairly well. I’m sure everyone who searched there put their hand on it at least once without realizing it was there.

That set the tone for the rest of the hour and this is what I learned about my family.

I discovered that we are a family of leaders, ready to direct the others in everything we “need” them to do. I know that the kids will follow my lead, but I purposely stepped back to see how things would shake out. That taught me that much of the bickering that happens in our family is the result of everyone trying to take charge and lead the pack. I also learned that the kids are quick to dismiss their mother’s opinion and direction. Part of that is them being teenagers, but we will need to work on their tendency to be disrespectful.

I also discovered that my daughter can be overly cautious. She was concerned that trying to enter the results of a puzzle too many times would cause the game to fail. One of the previous escape rooms she tried only let you enter the final solution once, so now she projects that limitation onto every puzzle. I’m more of a try-it-and-see kind of guy.

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I discovered that my son can be somewhat oblivious and overlooks things. One puzzle required spotting something while wearing polarized glasses. I know he overlooked the answer at least three times.

I discovered that my entire family is unaware of their body position. One of the obstacles was a laser maze. I was practically rolling on the floor with laughter as each of them tripped the alarms repeatedly while yelling at each other to watch their head or butt or loose sleeve. Someone had to stay at the main control and reset the maze every time. I volunteered for that job.

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I discovered that the biggest challenge when facing an escape room with my family was keeping the peace. The easiest way to do that was set each person loose on a separate puzzle. Unfortunately, we are terrible at minding our own business. Everyone kept trying to “help” the others when we should have been focusing on our own puzzle. That led to multiple conflicts, although they weren’t bad.

I went into this knowing we probably wouldn’t finish, so I wasn’t too disappointed when we lost the game. I had to leave for Houston right after the game, so I spent the next hour on the phone with each of them in turn, getting their thoughts and trying to provide perspective. Both of my kids have participated in multiple escape rooms with their friends. They both said this was the hardest one they’ve every tried to solve.

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If you’re into that kind of entertainment, both Baton Rouge and New Orleans have some excellent escape rooms. I’m really looking forward to trying out some of the others. Next time around, we’ll be ready!

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