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Wednesday, October 26, 2005  

Games Parents Play

M. Small and I have made up a few games. They're just temporary stopgaps, until he can reach a basketball hoop or I figure out how to hook up my computer with Trash's to play Half-Life 2 with him on a LAN (don't bet on which is going to happen first) and we can spend weekends blowing each other up. But right now, these little games we've made up are the acme of recreation for him while he lacks the understanding to know any better, and the gross and fine motor control to do anything about it.

I'm not listing any of the names of these games, by the way, because I don't know what they're called. I like to let M. Small name them, but he can never seem to settle on whether a given game is called "Geegee Goodwah" or "Boowaowaowaowao." Actually, lots of things appear to be called "Boowaowaowaowao." But I digress.

One of the first games we invented was before he could even crawl. I would set him on the couch or the loveseat and sit on the floor directly in front of him. Then I'd wait for him to inevitably tumble off the edge, whereupon I'd catch him in whatever rolling or somersaulting position he fell in. Which was hilarious to him, and often to me. I just wish I'd thought of it earlier, so we had a few more months before he got too good at it. Now he can just climb down by himself half the time, so I have to rig the game by putting him on the edge with his back to me so he has no choice but to topple backwards into my arms. Luckily he still thinks it's funny. He doesn't know yet that he's being cheated.

Another game is one that he invented all by himself. He runs between our legs. The end. End of game. He wins. You can tell this one is his game.

And then there's the game we invented tonight, totally serendipitously. He has in inflatable ball pit set up in our living room (The ball pit is a gift he got from Deniece's parents in retribution for the large, loud, cluttery gifts we shortsightedly bought for her the first couple of years of her life, with help from Trash's dad, stepmom, and sister in some kind of evil solidarity ). He also has a number of toys of more civilized size (although many are much noisier than the ball pit). Some of these smaller toys are stored in a plastic bin on one of our bookcases, which he can pull down (the bin, not the bookcase. Bookcase would be bad). Anyway, as is often the case when it's more than a few minutes into a living room play session, tonight the bin had been pulled down and spilled into the ball pit. Later he was sitting in there with the empty bin on his lap. So I began piling the little plastic balls into the bin right under his nose. Which to him was both hysterical and unacceptable, as he began laughing madly while trying to undo my efforts. Thus the game.

The funny part is, we're actually kind of evenly matched. I limit myself to using one hand, putting only one ball into the bin at a time, never touching the bin itself. I have better motor skills, longer reach, and the ability to think strategically, which are my advantage. His advantage is that all he needs to do is tip the bin or shake it, and he'll easily rid himself of several balls. Not that he limits himself to that strategy. Occasionally he'll take one ball out of the bin and throw it clear out of the ball pit. That puts it out of play (his rule, not mine). The game ends when he starts laughing so hard he can't remember what he was doing, and we both win.

It'll do until he's old enough for me to teach him Quidditch.

posted by M. Giant 10:01 PM 10 comments

10 Comments:

Baby games are great! I used to play 10 little Indians with my nephew. Yellow rubber gloves, with smiley faces on the fingers put on by a sharpie. Hold your closed fists up in front of his face and pop your fingers up one at a time while singing the song. Lots of emphasis on the numbers, while popping the finger up. He was mesmerized by it and would laugh wildly half way through or so. A favorite of my daughters was "Squish the Baby!" She was 3 when she came into our lives, so you might wait a bit on this one. I would kind of lay on her without really squishing her, and shake like the heebie-jeebies had me and yell "Squish the Baby! Squish the BABY!" She loved that. Then we switch, she jumps on me and yells "Squish the Momma, Squish the Momma!" All wiggly-giggly, giggling the whole time. Works best on a bed – great morning game.. That is a variation of a game we used to play with my little brothers called "Machine Gun Fire." It just occurred to me maybe my family is a little strange.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 27, 2005 at 3:10 PM  

Our son Clark is two, and he still plays Run Through The Legs. A favorite game like "Squish" above is when my husband and I play "Clark Sandwich!" One of us picks him up and then we hug, with Clark in between. INSANE giggles. Re: a previous post, Clark loves him some Baby Einstein too, and anybody who owns Baby Shakespeare knows what I'm talkin' about when I say "FARTING PURPLE BULL?!?" From Lisa

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 28, 2005 at 7:19 AM  

My baby girl, who is only a month older than your baby boy, LOVES the build and destroy game. It's similar to the fill and empty game. She has duplo's (or mega-bloks, I'm not sure which - but giant lego's nonetheless) and a little dump truck in which they came. On top of the truck is a couple of pegs that the duplo's fit onto. So we build them up from there, just stacking away and she busts up laughing and then swipes at them, knocking them all over. If they stay together, she MUST take them apart. We have to hurry and start building them up again before she can finish un-attaching them. She cheats tho. If we get too ahead on the building, she'll leave the ones on the floor together and come back to destroy the tower. This is much fun for all.

She also likes the fill and dump game, peek-a-boo, and chasing.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 28, 2005 at 8:45 AM  

Two couch cushions + one baby = baby sandwich! My son loved this game, and would play it with or without us.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 28, 2005 at 10:35 AM  

My husband plays the "roll off the couch game" with our 11 month old daughter - she LOVES it. She also has a rule that no block can be stacked, anywhere. So we build hasty block towers as she crawls around knocking them down like Godzilla.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 28, 2005 at 4:26 PM  

My cousin is a bit older than M Small, but his most favourite game of all time is very simple.

It's called "Running".
His house has a very long hallway, and anytime I come to visit or babysit, we spend a good hour just belting down the hallway. And then again. And then some more. And then chasing each other.

Just you wait until M Small gets a little older...

By Blogger Antipodean, at October 28, 2005 at 5:33 PM  

Never underestimate the appeal of rocking horses. I used to play a game with my second cousin, who had a nice classic wooden horse. I'd rock the horse forward and hold it there. Then I'd let it rock back while saying, "aaaand KABOOM!" Cue uncontrollable laughter. Ah, I can't wait to have kids!

By Blogger Charlotte Smith, at October 30, 2005 at 2:15 PM  

And I thought I had the only toddler Godzilla obsessed with destroying my block buildings! My 2 year old loves Hide and Seek, too. After I hide, he'll hide, but in the exact same place I was while I'm still standing right there. And in about three seconds, before I've even finished saying, "Where is Anthony?" he's forgotten he's hiding and wanders off to do something else. But he seems to enjoy the game.

I enjoyed this post a lot, by the way!

By Blogger Nancy, at October 31, 2005 at 5:51 PM  

So, where are the pictures of M. Small in his Halloween costume? He DOES have one, doesn't he? Dude, you have to show us - I bet he was so cute. Was he a chicken? We had like 20 chickens at our door this year.

By Anonymous Sarah, at October 31, 2005 at 8:31 PM  

The running between the legs game made me think of what it's going to be like when he's old enough to tell jokes. Bean's joke is: "Once upon a time. THE END!!!" As a 3-year-old, she finds this hilarious.

By Blogger Liz, at November 7, 2005 at 11:16 AM  

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