My kids get to spend most of their days playing. They build marble runs, play hide and seek, pretend to be characters in Disney movies. I get to do most of these activities with them, of course, and I usually have a great time. But I also have a bunch of adult responsibilities to take care of, as well. And frankly, most of those adult responsibilities are downright boring. So, after a glass of chardonnay one recent evening, I decided that some of those grown-up jobs would be more fun if I tried to think about them as games rather than chores.
So, here are some of the “games” I play in the course of my average week:
|A solution to my Thursday morning problem?|
Beat the Garbage Truck: On Thursday mornings, sometimes as early as 7:30 am, our city’s garbage trucks begin their rounds in our neighborhood. Most of my neighbors manage to get their three cans (garbage, recycling, and lawn clippings) out to the curb before dark on Wednesday night, but sometimes we don’t quite make it. Then the next morning finds either me or my husband—wearing pajamas, of course—racing back and forth between the curb and the gate with the cans as the first of the three trucks lumbers toward our house. (Usually my 3-year-old, wearing nothing but his Thomas underpants, is standing on the sidewalk yelling “Go, Mommy! Go!” while his younger brother screams “GARBAAAAAGE TRUUUUCK!!” as loud as he can.) My very nice, very efficient, and very childless neighbor is often standing on her porch, fully dressed and nicely coiffed, waving politely as I run around in my jammies. She never has to/gets to play Beat the Garbage Truck. And, she always takes each can back to her driveway as soon as it’s emptied, so she never gets to play our next game…
Beat the Street Sweeper: Some sadist in our city government decided that our side of the street should be cleaned on Friday mornings, the DAY AFTER GARBAGE TRUCK DAY. As if it’s not hard enough for us to remember to get those cans out by 7:30 am on Thursday, we then have to scramble to get them back to the gate by the next morning when the street sweeper comes. If we forget, the sweeper passes around them, leaving a wide swath of leaves, sticks, and trash right in front of our house on an otherwise clean street. We might just as well put a huge sign on our house that says, “WE DON’T HAVE OUR SH*T TOGETHER!”
What’s That Smell? Here’s how this one works: Doing chores around the house, I walk into what feels like a wall of stink. I drop whatever I’m doing and hunt down the source so it can be removed/cleaned/doused with Febreze. The problem is that our house contains so many, many potential sources of stink. The litter box, the cats, my toddler’s diaper, the garbage can, the fridge…or any combination thereof. And the savage beauty of this game is that I can play it just about anywhere. Just recently at Mommy And Me I picked up my diaper bag to hunt for a tissue and…there it was. Less a wall of stink and more a cloud of stinky steam rising from the depths of my Bermuda Triangle bag. Horrified that someone else might get a whiff, I smashed the bag into the bottom of my stroller, piled our jackets on top of it, and used my shirt to wipe my son’s nose (not for the first time!). Back at home, the hunt began. The details aren’t necessary; let’s just say this episode of the game ended with my diaper bag in the washing machine (not for the first time!).
Where’s Waldo?: I get to play this fun game when I bring my kids to crowded places like the park, the indoor play place, or the toy store. At some point, I look down to talk to my preschooler and realize he is no longer by my side. When a quick scan of the surrounding area doesn’t reveal his whereabouts, the game begins. Where is he? How far away did he go? Will today be the day some police officer has to test my son’s knowledge of my cell phone number? Fortunately, thanks to a recessive gene or a mix-up in the maternity ward, Matthew has platinum blond hair so he’s easy to spot in most crowds—kind of like Waldo’s striped shirt. Also fortunately, he’s a really good kid who knows not to go too far away. So far, he has always appeared within a few seconds, but that doesn’t mean my heart rate doesn’t go up every time (added benefit—cardio workout!).
|Safety device? Or TORTURE device?|
Pin the Toddler in the Car Seat: If you have or have had a toddler, then you know that inevitably the day comes when he or she refuses to sit in the car seat. If you’re like me you try reasoning, ordering, even begging and pleading (I’m not proud). But eventually you and your child must actually GO somewhere. And since wearing a seat belt is a no-compromise situation, that’s when you get to play this charming game. Unlike the original Pin the Tail on the Donkey, you don’t have to wear an eyeshade or spin around until you’re dizzy to play. You do need super strength and agility, and having 3 or 4 hands would probably help. I often need one whole arm just to hold my writhing, screaming, hot mess of a toddler in place, then I find myself using my chin, or my knee, or even my teeth along with my remaining hand to snap the belt in place. All while being screamed at. Good times.
Name That Sesame Street Episode: Since having kids, I seem to have lost quite a few brain cells. Once a fairly quick-witted person, I now have trouble remembering such “easy” details as say, my own age or the names of my cats. But, for some reason, my brain has no problem remembering various details of pretty much every single episode of Sesame Street that has aired in the last three years. As soon as Elmo or Zoe or Telly or whoever starts speaking, I can tell Matthew which episode it is. This is important in case it is one of the two episodes that feature the inexplicably terrifying-to-Matthew Jack Black, or the one where the Big Bad Wolf SINGS “huff and puff!” rather than growling it (unacceptable), or the “boring” one about amphibians. These must be stopped, deleted from the DVR, and replaced with another before I can get back to doing dishes/farting around on the internet (so, the sooner the better).
There are lots of other games I play with my kids over the course of any given day. At bedtime we play Staring Contest (or, Mommy Must Stay Awake Longer Than The Children). Most evenings we play Freezer Roulette (or, What’s For Dinner?). I have really improved my reflexes playing Dodge the Cough/Sneeze. And the ever popular How Dirty is Too Dirty? can be played with food dropped on the floor, hands, clothes, the cats, you name it.