Games of the Weak

April 13, 2013

Today, Alice got a big girl bed. Not only did she get it, she helped me put a genuine IKEA frame together. Can I get a heck ja?! Or meatballs. Or some delicious gummy fish. She helped me find parts. The little wooden pieces that I would describe as bed dowels were called “skinnies” and “fats”. She even started a few screws in the frame and took her turn cranking on an Allen wrench. It was fun for half of the family.

This would have been an Eastwood moment in and of itself. And by Eastwood moment, I don’t mean talking to the empty furniture. Even my three-year-old could spot that as foolishness. What I mean is that it would have “made my day”. However, the real cherry on top of this sundae of a Friday was the game she created.

Just after dinner, Alice asked me to pretend to be a baby. Usually this is a bit of a drag, because the role requires me to talk nonsense while crawling on the floor. But today, thanks to my new Swedish besties, the role required something a little more parent-appropriate. You guessed it, I got to play the role of baby who gets tucked into bed.

So there I was, sprawled out on a surprisingly-roomy toddler bed, my hairy legs protruding from under a down comforter. Minutes later, I would get two more blankets to provide adequate coverage. Then she tucked me in. “Call on me if you need anything,” she said. She hugged me and closed the door as tiny footsteps left the room. Minutes later she came back and “read” me a story. In this blissful state I had three thoughts from resting on those blueberry sheets.

Try not to drool on your daughter’s new sheets.

This bed is surprisingly comfortable!

Are there any other games like this?

You can see I was fully committed to this role of sleeping baby. Daniel Day-Lewis was getting restless.

So why not guide a child toward other types of imaginative play that improve the quality of life? Here are a few ideas:

1. Suggest the “Pretend to be an Animal” game. Always pick the sloth.

2. After you hear the word “Disney” and before the word “Princess” call Sleeping Beauty right away. Bonus points if you convince the daughter to be Snow White.

3. When you come home ravenous and in need of a snack just before suppertime, take on the role of royal taste-tester. You must eat 15 Pringles before the queen can be sure that her one chip is safe. It’s also a good lesson on adequate sample size.

4. If a really important game is on, pretend to be assistant to the assistant coach. Your job is to carefully watch footage and report to the coach. Obviously your kid is the coach. You’ll need to find interesting ways to make reports every five minutes or so. Expressions such as “our offense is looking messier than your booster seat”, “I think I need two more raisin boxes worth of footage, coach”, and “I’m ready to pick this zone apart like a neatly-folded pile of laundry, boss” should all resonate with your audience.

5. Picking up toys can be a big issue. I’m a solid proponent of temporarily removing items for a period of reflection. But why be bad cop all the time? Why not introduce the Witness Protection Program for toys? “I’m sorry ma’am, but your toy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m going to put him in hiding for a little bit until it’s safe to come out. We’ll get him a new identity, a disguise, send him on a vacation for a few days. And trust me, I’ll take care of him. You have my word.”

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