By Heather O.
I’ll admit it. I suck at playing with my kids.
I mean, I’m pretty good at taking them places where they *can* play, like the park, or an indoor something, and I think I’m giving them ample opportunities for physical activity–basketball, ballet, Tae Kwon Do, etc. And since it’s fall, aka, the ultimate season of quixotic lawn chores, we’ve had some fun with leaves, because there is pretty much an endless supply of fun with leaf piles, rakes, and leaf blowers.
Behold the following conversations in my house this afternoon:
Little Sister: Mom, are you coming to my FEAST?
Me: Uh-huh. I mean, wait, what?
I turn from my cleaning to see that Little Sister is sitting on the counter, toasting about a billion pieces of bread, one right after the other. I stop her, telling her that 6 pieces of toast is surely enough for whatever she is planning. She agrees, then leaves them strewn about the counter. I try to clean them up, but my daughter yells, “NO! They are for the FEAST!”
I have no idea what The Feast is, so I leave them, and try to clean something else.
Then my daughter comes up to me, stepping slowly sideways.
Little Sister: Look mom, I’m going slow! Like you!
Me: Like me? I’m slow?
(Admittedly, this is true. I swear I’ve been cleaning all afternoon, and aside from cleaning the bathrooms, nothing else has really gotten done. It’s my Twilight Hangover. Yes, I went to the midnight showing, yes I had fun yelling obnoxious things at the screen, don’t judge me.)
Little Sister: Well, you WILL be, when you’re on the slow team. Because of the race!
Me: The Race? What race?
Little Sister: The one we’re in RIGHT NOW!
I look at the debris in my hand from the playroom that I’ve been trying to straighten.
Me (somewhat weakly):Right now? I kinda wanted to vacuum.
Little Sister, continuing to sidestep down the hall: Isn’t my race IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Me (sighing): Yes, your race is important to me. What are we doing again?
Little Sister: Pick a team! Which team do you want to be on?
And she holds up two pointer fingers, wagging them in my face. I touch one.
Little Sister: Okay, you stand THERE, and I’ll go in my fort, and then we say GO, and then I’ll do my tunnel (at this point, she climbs into a fort we made earlier in the day) and then you STAY THERE and go SLOW and…(muffled speech from inside the fort) and then (she emerges) I WIN! See, I tricked you! You LOST!
Me (having not moved from my spot):Um, okay then. Nicely done.
Little Sister: Now you do the round part, slow, and then I can trick you again!
So I sidestep down the hallway, because that’s she was doing before, and she freaks out.
Little Sister: NO, that’s NOT HOW YOU DO IT! I told you, SLOW!
And this is the point where I want to throw up my hands and say, “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO NAVIGATE THE LABYRINTH THAT IS YOUR TINY LITTLE MIND, CHILD!”
Because being scolded for breaking imaginary rules for an imaginary game that makes sense only to a 5 year old?
I think she had the feast without me.
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