My New Favorite Game



Mastermind is a classic game that I played growing up. This was one of the more brainy games I played (well, at least I thought so). It is perfect for practicing colors,working on that pincer grasp and teaching your youngster deductive reasoning, . If you haven’t played it before in a nut shell, one person creates a color code with pegs and hides it behind the barricade. The other person tries to guess the color code and the “hider” has to give feedback using black and white pegs. Black means right color, wrong spot. White means right color right spot (I’m going to resist the urge to comment on the racist undertones of this game at this time).

About a month ago, it dawned on me that caring for a newborn is EXACTLY like playing Mastermind.

In Infant Mastermind, the baby is always the code hider and the parent is always the guesser. Here is the player manual.

Start of the game

  1. The baby starts crying and says, “Waaaaaahhhhh, waaaaaaah!” (~110 decibels)
  2. Parent needs to drop everything and play Infant Mastermind.
  3. Parent will make attempts to guess the code.
  4. Game ends when infant falls asleep.

So the first couple weeks of parenting, it is common that the infant is not a very advanced player. They are complete noobs at this game (literally noobs actually) and it’s always the same thing – they’re hungry and want to be fed. It’s like playing with someone who dresses in all blue and always puts four blue pegs as their code every time you play. In the beginning you think, “Gosh this is easy. Yes I am getting a little bored and tired of playing this game, but at least I win every time!!”

And then your infant gets a little older. And with that your infant gets a little smarter and graduates to the intermediate and advanced levels. This is when it gets “fun.” Your infant is getting tired of you always winning this game and insists on testing your wits to see if you have the right chops to be its parent.

In the intermediate level, there are more variables introduced. The following is a list of things that have soothed Wes over the past 11 weeks.

  • Food
  • Clean diaper
  • Being swaddled
  • Being un-swaddled
  • Being worn
  • Not being worn and being put down
  • Pacifier
  • Being held over the shoulder
  • Being held on their side across the body
  • Being held chest to chest
  • Listening to lullabies
  • Sitting in the swing
  • Foot massages (This epiphany came when I fell asleep getting a foot massage… if foot massages make me sleepy… maybe….)
  • Quiet
  • White noise
  • 5 S’s
  • A particular parent
  • __________ ? Sometimes the chump (you) will be stumped and you just have to take a breather and say to yourself “This too shall pass.”

However unlike real Mastermind, Infant Mastermind is different in the following ways:

  1. Infant Mastermind (IM) can change its code as many times as Infant desires!
  2. If the Parent’s guess is wrong, you may have to try again in 10 seconds because The Infant may have changed their mind!
  3. No pegs. There is no feedback to let you know if you are getting close.
  4. In Mastermind you only get 10 guesses. In IM, you get infinite guesses. Joy!
  5. Winning IM makes you feel a million bucks.
  6. Sucking at IM makes you go batty.

As of right now I am winning big time! This morning it was the combination of feeding, diaper change and babywearing that has put my little man in a state of unconsciousness for the past 2 hours. Wish me luck for the next round!


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