This morning I was thinking about all the games my folks used to play with us kids. My memories make it seem like Dad played with us every night after work while we lived in Germany on the base where he served. Sometimes it was “hide the button.” We would close our eyes while he hid the button somewhere in plain sight in the living room. We were completely delighted with that one!

Then there were the “tricks” he would do with us, balancing us as we stood on his hands (he was lying down on his back on the living room floor) and lifting us up over his head. We had lots of versions of that one, and I’m pretty sure we kids thought we could have joined a circus, we were just so talented. Grab-bag was a big hit.  Mom and Dad would write down funny things on little slips of paper and put them all in a hat. Then we would  take turns drawing one out. We had to do whatever it said. This usually entailed singing a silly song, telling a joke, or doing some amazing stunt like three somersaults. These games were quite big doings in our little lives.

Mom was the one who made the parties happen. My birthday parties were always extravagant, full of games for all the kids, prizes for the winners, and a birthday cake that could have been a cover of a cookbook. She took a cake-decorating class, and we reaped the benefits. Our birthday cakes always had coins wrapped in foil inside, which she put in after the cake was baked and before she frosted it. A quarter, a dime, a nickel, a penny, and a button were the prizes, and I remember all the kids eagerly pounding down their cake with the hope of finding some treasure in there. The coin-in-the-cake tradition lives on in our family. Mom was my Brownie troop  leader, sewing and knitting teacher, and role-model for all that was wise, domestic, and feminine.

Whenever Dad had time off, we headed out with our camper, and we saw quite a bit of Europe that way. Since I was so little, I know I’ve forgotten a bunch of what we did and where we went. But I remember the jolly times touring, camping, site-seeing, and having fun. Isn’t that the way it is with kids? It’s more about the relationship and the tone, time, and attention, than it is about the actual destination.

When our kids were growing up, I did my versions of the same games (not the hand balancing tricks…Doug did those). Doug brought his own stock of games and (especially) stories to the family. Our kids’ favorite game of his has to be the sock-and-slipper game. Yep. He would stretch out on the couch, loaded with tightly folded socks, and they would walk across the room with the slippers balanced on their heads, while he fired off the socks, trying to knock the slippers off their heads. This usually happened when I was out (are you surprised?) and I would  find socks in the weirdest places. I also play satta king on my computer when I have free time.

The other family favorite at our house was the jammy ride, which I have written about elsewhere. We would put the kids to bed, and then after a few minutes, Doug would holler, “Jammy ride!”  They would all come tumbling out of bed,  we would all  jump in the car and go out for ice cream, followed by a stop at the grandparents’ house. Simple fun. Joy in the silly things.

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8 thoughts on “Simple Fun

  1. You know, someone needs to write a book all about fun and silly games to play with your kids/siblings.

    Those, after all, are the best memories. We don’t play “Bump Into Each Other” anymore (it was banned after a few too many blood noses) but we love “The Aardvark Game”.

    You simply take a well-known phrase, a quote or a book, movie, or song title, and replace one of the words with “aardvark”. Endless fun.

    (Love is an Aardvark. The Taming of the Aardvark. The Divine Aardvark. Twelve Angry Aardvarks. That Hideous Aardvark.)

  2. I just taught my 2-year-old niece how to play “which hand is it in”. She puts something in her hand (in full view) and then says “Is in hand.” When you guess, she immediately transfers it to her other hand and says “Is empty!!”

    It is funny that as soon as they are able to really play the game, it is no longer fun. Same with all of us I guess.

  3. I had to laugh out loud about socks-and-slippers! I suppose if I was born at a different time, I would have memories like that… but my formative years were The Farming Years, and it was a treat even to SEE Daddy before he left for work at dawn or after he got home late at night. I have lots of stories stowed away, though. :o)

  4. I definitely need to get better at coming up with fun/silly games for the kids. My husband works very hard (his schedule is evidence) and isn’t able to see our kids several days out of the week and they start to miss that silly-Daddy play time. I have tried Rachel’s “crash pile” (our hallway/living room layout is ideal) on quite a few occasions though, and it has been a BIG hit. I think I’ll be giving the “socks and slippers” a go tomorrow. 🙂

  5. I am bleary eyed with a newborn right now, but this post hit the spot. It reminds me of where we are going with the littlest and to enjoy the silly stage with the bigger kids even when bleary eyed. Silliness can trump grumpiness even when I am tired. Thanks!

  6. We took the pajama ride idea for our own. We put our daughter to bed, and wait about ten minutes. My husband gets his guitar ready. We burst into the room. I switch on the lights, and Nate sings to the tune of “Lord I Lift Your Name on High.”
    “It’s pajama ride tonight
    We are going to get some
    Ice creeeeam.”
    At this point Suzy is giddy. We go to sonic and get a milkshake. The first time we did it she was about 2 and a half. As we drove home, she sat in her car seat, slurping a strawberry milkshake that took up her entire lap. You could tell she thought this was the best development in her life to date. She sang from the back seat, “I never have to go night-night ever again!”

  7. My parents did the “Jammy Ride” with us when we were little! We LOVED it! I have such fun memories of piling into the car in Quebec and driving to Dairy Queen. We often tried different things, but my mother ALWAYS got the same thing–a soft serve cone dipped in caramel! 🙂

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