Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
If this were one of those parenting blogs about how to peacefully empower your spirited, red-shirted, kale smoothie-sipping child, who is named Ceydaenne, to be centered and free-range and whatnot, I would explain about how vital it is to provide s/him with lots and lots of unstructured, self-directed discovery time in order to non-violently foster a healthy sense of wonder and whatnot.
If you have been following my blog, however, you'd immediately recognize that what I'm really talking about is telling the kids to get away from me and find something to do, lest I strrrrrrrrangle them.
And yes, this means that they ride their scooters in the house. Because that way, at least they're fighting about something ("He ran over my lip!" - " Well, what was your lip doing on the floor?" - "I was just tasting this puddle to see what it was, and he ran right over my lip!"), which, while equally as loud as fighting about nothing, is somehow less frustrating. I guess. Anyway, I haven't strangled them yet.
Yes, something is definitely better than nothing, and that means that doing something is better than doing nothing. Even if that something is . . .
RODEO IN THE LIVING ROOM
I don't know what the rules are for this game, but it very neatly makes use of all their finely-honed galloping and shrieking skills; and I do like to hear them cheering and applauding each other, even if it's only because of a nicely-executed fatal goring done by whoever gets to be the bull. I really regret buying that microphone, though.
THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF
This is one of those games which makes me deny that we have a backyard at all, because if I look out the window in that direction, I know I'll have a legal duty to make them stop. What they do is to take a horrible old splintery plank with nails coming out of it, and lay it across the top of two of those plastic Crazy Coupes. Then one person, presumably the most desperate for acceptance and the least terrified of dying a splintery, tetanus-laden death, crouches under the plank, and the other kids (heh, kids, because they're goats!) try to sneak across the plank without being heard. If they are heard, then the troll comes out, and everyone runs around yelling and screaming, "No fair!" First person to get a Band Aid out of Mama wins.
A timeless classic. One person has the ball; everyone else tries to murder him.
FALLING-DOWN MUMMY TOMBS
I suspect that every family with a couch has developed a version of this game. You stand on one end of the couch, fold in your arms, go stiff as a board, and do your best to fall flat on your face without bracing yourself. If you are a big weirdo, you yell, "Fall . . . ling . . .down . . . MUMMYTOMBSSSSSSSSS!" as you fall. I actually like this game, because it motivates them to clear some of their spikier toys off the couch before Daddy gets home.
This is actually something I used to play as a child, and haven't done with my own kids in many a year, for reasons which will become obvious in a moment. The adult lies on his back with his knees folded up to his chest. The child sits on his own knees on the folded-up lower legs of the adult, and they hold hands. Then the adult suddenly and violently straightens his legs while simultaneously yanking on the hands of the kid, who flies into the air, and then falls on the adult's head. Which is why it's called a Snopper-Bopper.
THE DYING GAME
I did not teach them this game, which I did not make up. In fact, I'm not even writing this last paragraph, because I am not ashamed at how much our entire family (except my stupid husband, who is boring) enjoys playing this game. Here is how we don't play:
One person, for instance, the mother who doesn't want to get up, says things like, "You're walking down the sidewalk, enjoying a snack, when suddenly you realize that what you thought was a tasty peanut is actually a murderous piranha who wants to devour you from the inside out!" or "You're writing a letter, when your own hand turns against you," or "Three words: rain of knives." Everybody takes turns acting it out, and everybody dies at the end. Just like in Shakespeare! Are you saying you have a problem with Shakespeare?
Fine, what does your stupid family do for fun, then?