Choice TimeJanuary 22nd, 2009 at 9:15
Here are some of the activities – developed either by them, by me, or jointly – that were their favorite choices…
Cat Rock Video
I invented this game, generally played on our king size bed (and probably responsible for wrecking the box springs) where we played out various improvisations of the same basic scenario. I was a person that lived alone and decided to go to the pet store to get a pet cat. I would tell the store owner that I was looking for a nice calm cat for a pet, and my kids (and often the kid next store too) would be several cats eager to find a home and claiming to be nice, calm and generally well behaved. After some discussion, I would be convinced to take them home, and they would initially behave well.
But when I went to sleep at night (in my bed) they would come into my bedroom and dance on my bed wildly singing “Cat rock video”, disturbing my sleep but not actually waking me up. I would wake up in the morning and they would ask me politely if I slept well. I would answer that I had not and that I had had this wild dream that cats were dancing on my bed singing some inance song like “Cat rock audio”, “Cat rock stereo” or something like that, I did not quite remember. They would carelessly volunteer, “You mean ‘video’” and I would say “That’s it!” and then think about it a second and say “Wait a minute…”. The plot would play out from there.
Other common improvised events included when they would get infested with fleas or things much worse – buzzards, TVs, etc. – and I would have to buy a “dip”, a yucky medicinal solution in a pretend bathtub (off to one size of the bed) that I would try to dip them in, which they would invariably resist, degenerating to a wrestling match on the bed. They loved this game so much – it featuring jumping around on the bed and wrestling with me to avoid the “dip” – that we probably played it during over a hundred different “choice times” over several years. As they got bigger you can imagine that the bed took more and more of a beating and they would occasionally bonk a head on the wall or furniture or somebody else’s head, knee or elbow. As the adult “facilitator” of the game, that was the trick to make it as rough and tumble as possible while avoiding injury.
This was a fairly simple bed game where I would lie on that same bed on my back with my feet pulled up and my knees in the air. One of them would sit on my knees and I would start singing the Del Monte tuna song to the words “dunt dah duh dunt dah duh dunt…” (and so on) while I bounced them on my knee. The pace of the song and the intensity of the bouncing would increase until they were thrown off.
Another simple bed game, again with me lying on my back in the same position as for “Dunta Dunta”. One of them would sit on my knees and direct the action by saying “crashing up”, “crashing back”, “crashing sideways”, and other variations, which would direct me to move them on my knees in that direction. If they ever said “crashing down” I would pull my knees apart and they would fall on the bed.
The subtlety of the game would be in their patter which would include such phrases as “crashing somewhat down” and “down crashing” which though close did not trigger the fall. But finishing one sentence with “crashing” and then starting the next sentence with “down”, even after a long pause, would trigger the climactic event.
Escape from Jail
A game played on our driveway just outside the front door of our house. They would start from their “safe” area, which would be anywhere where one of them was touching the garage or the little flower bed next to the garage or touching one of the other of them who was touching the safe area. They would then leave the “safe” area and make a break for the sidewalk at the other end of the driveway which would constitute a successful escape. Once they left the safe area I could try to tag them and capture them again, and send them back to plan a new escape.
The game featured teamwork on their part – feints by one of them to allow another to make a break, or the two or three of them holding hands to form various sorts of chains to extend themselves as far as possible before one or more of them made the break. I would pretend to be distracted or move precariously away to lull them into trying a break.
Full Block Hide & Seek
We played a version of hide and seek where the hiding area included anywhere on our small block, including anywhere in our yard (front or back) or anywhere in front (only) of anyone else’s house on the block. I was usually “it” and they would hide, though occasionally they were it and I hid.
When I was “it”, their typical tactic was to the opposite corner of the block from our house and hide as best they could behind a bush or a low wall of that house. I would approach their hiding place along the sidewalk from one or the other direction and at some point they would make a break for “home” in the other direction, which I would attempt to detect and run back in the direction I came to beat them their. Sometimes they would feint a break for home and send me running back there but then they would double back and try to trick me.
We were blessed to have a block full of people who basically knew my kids and put up with the kids’ presence in their front yards.
This game could be played on our bed or really anywhere in the house. I would cover myself in a blanket (the one usually available was blue… thus the name) and move slowly about menacingly saying “blue blob” over and over again and attempting to “swallow” any of them that I could grab. But my biggest vulnerability was that I hated ingesting dirty socks. So when I had one of them in my grip, my victim or one of their comrades would pull off a sock and stuff it in my blob “mouth” which would cause me to recoil, release my prey, cough and sputter and eventually spit out the offending sock with a loud “petouie” noise, before returning to the hunt.
My kids and I have great memories of these games. Even now, ten years or more since we last did “choice time” I bring up one of our games and their eyes light up and they laugh and recall some favorite story or incident.
Posted by Cooper Zale, in Imagination