I don’t have my kids enrolled in any after-school programmes. My seven-year-old was taking karate (and kicking butt at it) last year, but by the summer, he “wanted a break” from his four-to-five-hours-per-week classes, and just wanted to do summer camp stuff. We quickly realised in September how much time his first-grade homework (completment en Francais) takes to finish each day, so the extras quickly slipped off the radar.
Mid-winter was tough though. With darkness setting in so early in the afternoons, and crazy-cold sub-zero temps, we were housebound for days and days in a row, dying of boredom… oh, how sad our lives were then.
Until the child received a scooter for his birthday from his grandparents.
I worried at first that he wouldn’t be able to use it until the good weather finally appeared, but I decided to break a few rules, and let him ride the damned thing in the house to get his ya-ya’s out before settling down to do homework.
So, for several weeks now, around 3:30 in the afternoon, Oliver and his sister dig out all the cheap plastic dollar store weapons I bought them for Valentine’s Day, and we begin this form of play that has been the just about the most fun we’ve ever had in this house. (Oliver understands that he is not to seriously whack his sister under any circumstances whatsoever – they’re careful of each other.)
Sometimes it begins with my son deking around on the scooter, and I will approach him, with his sister in my arms and say, “Hey kid… can I see your scooter for a second?”
He flatly replies, “No.” And then gets a wicked case of the giggles.
I say, “C’mon, maaaaaaan… just for a second… here! Hold this baby for a minute…”
“Nooooooo…!” Peals of laughter.
“Listen, I’d like to offer you this baby in exchange for a ride. Please.”
“No! Leave me alone!!” He tries to ride away, but I stand firm, and thrust his sister at him, while at the same time prying the scooter handles out of his little hands. I force the shrieking Small One into his arms, and he has no choice but to hold her, lest she falls to the ground.
I laugh, and take off on the scooter… but within moments, I’m being assailed by a rain of arrows and a serious chant of “Off with her head!!”
It is hilarious.
It’s like being chased by a very small band of Lost Boys, only there are just two of them, and one is a tiny girl. Still, they are wild, and loud, and ferocious. They shout, “Get! Mummy!!” and try to catch me on foot.
Silly children. Mummy is awfully nimble on the Razor, you see… she has ninja skills. But the house isn’t all that big, and they catch me pretty fast, charging at me with lances made of foam. They cry, “Capture her!!” and they shoot me with nerf “bullets” and try to tie me up with skipping ropes.
My bed is a mountain. Or a fort. Or a pirate ship. Aaaaarrrrrrrrr!!
Clever… they don their shields I bought them for Christmas (they have sequins on them!) as I poke at them with my own sword, trying to fend them off, and I spin off long diatribes (in a questionable Olde English accent) about how I’ll stew each of them upon capture, and outline how I will roast the Small One with butter and onions, but simmer her brains down into jam to enjoy on toast with my morning coffee… they shriek in mock-horror and plan their next ambush.
What can I tell you? It can be very Robin Hood meets Sweeney Todd up in here.
We play versions of this game for twenty or thirty minutes, until we’ve all had enough, and they’re ready for a drink and something to nosh. It’s also perilously close to Oprah time, so I snap my fingers and say “Silence! I command you!!” and usher them into another room for a little while.
They think that’s pretty funny. (And they always come back to harass me… I’m so happy to have my DVR machine this year.)
As I write it down like this, I feel like less of a motherhood failure for not enrolling them in all kinds of special activities. It’s been nice not having to rush around this winter. And, now that fabulous SPRING has arrived with her warmth and her late-day sunshine, we’re far less inclined to play indoors this way. Soccer starts any minute now…
By next winter, I’d wager that this game will have lost it’s edge for Oliver. They really do grow so quickly… it was fun while it lasted.
What’s your favourite way to play with your children?