Friday, October 20, 2006

Bored games

I've got a bit of the crud. It's a cold-flu thing, in that it feels exactly like the flu without one smidge of fever, thus achieving only cold-level status. And it's palindromic! Felt really lousy on Sunday, only marginally better on Monday. Greatly improved on Tuesday and practically perfect on Wednesday. Thursday, a big backslide, and today, I'm back to square one. Feel free to place bets on what tomorrow will look like, 'cause I'm at a total loss.

Calling in sick, of course, is not an option. My miniature tryannical bosses have no tolerance and, frankly, no mercy for my woes. Oh, C tries to be sweet. "Are you okay, Mommy? Do your eyelashes still hurt?" But three seconds later, it's back to "Need a straw for my smoothie. Need a straw! NEED A STRAW! STRAAAAAW!!" He instinctively knows that I lack the energy to cough and hack my way through yet another discussion of You’re Not Allowed to Talk to Mommy in That Tone of Voice.

S and K don't really care what I do or how I feel, as long as I provide them with a steady stream of milk for their sippy cups, and promise to say "no" at least a hundred times a day. It's their favorite word in the universe. They wriggle with joy when my lips begin to form the letter "o." And if I happen to furrow my eyebrows and point (or better yet, shake) my finger while saying "no, no, a thousand times no!" well, that's a job well done.

So, let's do the math. 1 puny me + 3 healthy them x 2 full days of being cooped up in these 4 walls = a rather impressive lineup of games and activities created from sheer boredom and excess energy. Here are 6 examples:

First, we laugh: This game was C's answer to what he deemed interminably dull (read: grown-up) dinner conversations. Without provocation or warning, C will announce, “First, we laugh!” He throws his head back and laughs; before we have a chance to launch into a lecture about Not Interrupting, S and K obediently begin to cackle.

“Now, we bang!” our fearless leader shouts, and begins pounding the table with his hands. S and K follow suit. In fact, now that they’ve been properly indoctrinated, the younger two will often initiate this game themselves, wordlessly laughing like maniacs and then banging whatever surface is nearest. Entertainment for hours is virtually assured.

Musical cars: Thanks to generous grandparents, we have no less than twelve ride-on toys in the house at all times. At any given time, however, only two vehicles are considered to be desirable. When two children (usually C and K) hop onto two randomly selected cars and begin wheeling them around the hallways, ONLY THOSE CARS will do for the child (usually S) who is left standing.

Vehicles that are bigger, faster and shinier may be offered up by Mommy; she fails to understand the angst of the standing child, who is now wailing and pulling his face, which assumes a distorted visage of despair and agony befitting Guernica.

Wide world of sports: Ever noticed the marvelous resemblance between a broom and a golf club? Or realize that, in a pinch, a large whisk makes a fine baseball bat? Did you ever stop to think how much fun it might be to play football with one of those giant exercise balance balls? How about dribbling a large grapefruit, in lieu of a soccer ball, until it dribbles back?

Uh-oh. What was that crashing noise? Suddenly Mommy emerges and tells you to cut it out, RIGHT NOW. No worries: just assume a pained expression and say, “But I want to be at the park! Isn’t it a beautiful day in the neighborhood?” She will look at you for a full minute... then her shoulders will slump and she will feebly return your sports equipment to you. Goal!

(Note: This defense may also help defuse Mommy’s reaction to discovering your latest wall art, rendered in sidewalk chalk, Sharpie, bathtub crayon or ballpoint pen. Creative expression is vital to a child’s development, after all.)

Do you understand me? This is a terrible synthesis of bowling and Mommy guilt. After a routine break-in to the pantry, the muppers recently found a six-pack of bottled waters. Once they'd carefully freed the bottles from their plastic case, C devised the rules and launched the game to great success. It goes something like this:

C lines up a selection of bottles on the coffee table, like an elevated bowling alley. He turns to S and K and says sternly, "Now, I don't want you to touch these bottles. Do you understand me?" He then takes his arm and sweeps the bottles from the coffee table so that they BOOM to the floor and roll to all corners of the room. His small audience cheers and laughs hysterically.

(A warning: if you happen to be in the bathroom the first time this game is played, you may think that a substantial piece of furniture has crashed to the floor. After a while, you barely even flinch.)

We wuv wipes: Fellow mommies, have you ever counted how many wipes you have in your house? We have packs of wipes everywhere, it seems: stationed at two changing tables, stashed in diaper bags, stored in closets and even (ahem) kept within arm’s reach in bathrooms.

I know exactly how many wipes we have. It doesn’t matter where they’re kept; my intrepid team of explorers will find them and, with rather impressive speed, root them out, one by one. As you stumble across one wet pile of wipes and begin restoring them to their proper container, rest assured that the team is working feverishly on another case elsewhere in the house. No, please... no thanks are necessary. Your utter exasperation is their only reward.

Addendum: when all wipes have been inconveniently stacked on top of the fridge, similar fun can still be had by extracting the contents of laundry baskets, dressers and the drawers that hold the dish towels, cloth napkins and placemats.

Whack-a-Mom: This team effort duplicates all the fun of the arcade game at your own breakfast table. The setting: you have a plate of food in front of you, as do your siblings. Mommy is walking from the counter to the table with a plate of her own. Now, wait for it... timing is of the essence.

The second she sits down, ask her to get you something, please. It can be obvious (a drink, a utensil, a napkin) or obscure (cinnamon sugar, the perfect accompaniment to cheese quesadilla), but be sure to pace yourself. Only submit a new request AFTER she returns to the table. Extra points may be scored if she’s sitting down and, at last, about to put a forkful of food into her mouth.

Just as she suspects you might be manipulating her, cue a sibling to drop a spoon, fling a sippy cup or ask plaintively, “More?”

Tomorrow is a new day. Let the games begin!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am LOVING bored games. seriously, there are times when we come up with the most random things that, before children, i would have NEVER thought of. you go, franklin mama! hope you had a great weekend!

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Jen W. said...

hysterical! sort of the franklin five version of hullabaloo!?


7:05 PM  

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