Playing is not my strong suit.
While I enjoy making up stories, reading, and playing board games with our girls (as long as said board game is not Candyland with a four-year old cheater girl*), I often avoid opportunities to play, opting instead to focus on myriad important household tasks (e.g.
Tweeting paying bills, checking my blog stats making dinner, reading Yeah Write submissions).
*Name withheld to protect the not-so-innocent.
When we do play together, life is good. Genuine connection and deafening screams ensue.
Here are the top five ways our family plays together:
Don’t ask me to play with Barbies or Polly Pockets. I get itchy and scratchy. Playing anything where my girls tell me exactly what to do or say doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t take direction well, perhaps accounting for my failed acting career!
However, give me a movie scene or a familiar story to act out, and I’m all in. Our best moments together involve me. And a fight scene.
Occasionally I overestimate my agility … While reenacting the climatic sword fight between Peter Pan and Captain Hook (guess who I played?), I dramatically leaped off the couch yelling “You’ll never catch me, Peter Pan! Walk the plank!” and promptly fell on my ass, hurting my
(To those who suggest Captain Hook is perhaps not as nimble as he once was and should consider retiring his straddle jumps, I say, “suck it.”)
As you can imagine, things in our family are smoother and calmer after we “act out.”
In addition to complaining about whose turn it is to leap dramatically off the couch, we tend to argue over who gets the best parts in the plays we recreate.
I ask you: Why do I always have to be the Evil Stepmother, Evil Witch, Evil Sorcerer, Evil Queen, Evil Mermaid, Evil etc. Why? Why? It’s not fair.
And tell me, why can I never portray the ubiquitous dead mom in the Disney story and go catch up on emails? Right?
Mike (my hubby) and Rhys (our 4 yo) have been playing Candyland together for the past several nights before bed. Rhys cheats. Dramatically. She fixes the deck to ensure she gets all the good picture cards (you know you know them – Princess Frostine, Lolly, Grandma Nut, Mr. Mint) and plays to win.
The good news: she’s upfront about her cheating and makes no apologies for it. Also, because of her duplicity, the games are over quickly. A win for all!
Last night I offered to play Candyland with her while Mike was at a work event.
Rhys: “Mom, I want you to play Candyland, but you should know, I’m gonna cheat.”
Me: “Good to know. Thanks for being honest about that, Rhys. I’m probably gonna cheat too.” (A model of sportsmanship, I am.)
When the tension between us is running high, occasionally instead of yelling or picking a fight, I’ll remember to call for a rousing game of Tag. The girls and I enjoy chasing each other down the long hallway connecting our kitchen and family room.
I used to run slower so the girls could occasionally catch me. Now, I sweat trying to keep away from them. (Perhaps Mike and I can try this ourselves when the girls are away… spice things up a little.)
5. Blowing Off Steam
We have several activities we use to express frustration in our family. My favorite involves this squishy ball.
When the girls get home from school, occasionally they’re a pain in the ass handful, eager to release all the emotions they worked hard to contain throughout their school day. At me. Or each other. (Of course, I never have feelings to release when the girls get home from school. It’s all them. Really.)
Nothing is more satisfying or fun for me than whipping a squishy ball at my daughters and dodging their attempts to hit me with it.
I’m not vying for any parenting awards on this one (and I’d appreciate keeping Family Services in the dark), but nothing works better to bring on the giggles and relieve any anxiety we have about reconnecting.
And, yes, if you’ve been following along, it’s even more satisfying than picking my cuticles.
How do you play together as a family? Does it involve hurling balls at each other? Does playing come easily or do you resist it like I do?
Linking up with Shell‘s Pour Your Heart Out!