Friday, September 5, 2014

The Perils of Volleyball and Homemade Games

In her slow, methodical quest to remove herself from the responsibilities of her family and return to the carefree,  impulse-driven life she so sorely misses, Mrs. Blackwell left the boy and I alone last night. Again. 

She said she was playing volleyball or some such thing — but the boy and I know better. Anyways, enough about her.

We find ways to keep ourselves amused. 

First there was a game the boy calls "Fly." Pretty simple, really. I lie on my back plant a foot on his chest, grab his arms and raise my foot, and the boy, into the air. He laughs, giggles and enjoys it to no end — literally, no end. 

After about five minutes of this "game" my legs, abdominals and (for some reason my neck) are throbbing. Yet the relentless, remorseless little bugger just continues to cry "More? More? More?"

The decidedly unpopular "Sit in the Grocery Store and Pitch a Fit" game.
When you've reached the point where a child's requests to merely continue playing a game sound more like your high school gym teacher questioning your fitness level, it's time to change the game. 

So, change we did. 

Next up was the run-around-the-first-floor-in-a-big-circle-before-falling-on-the-couch game. This one suits me much better. The boy's short, spindly legs move quickly and he gives full exertion. On the flip side, I only had to give mild effort thanks to my long, spindly legs. 

So, we'd reached a stasis. We were having fun. He was running himself ragged (thus  ensuring a sound night's sleep) and I was able to keep up. But, as anyone who's ever babysat a toddler for even ten minutes can tell you, such mutually-agreeable arrangements are always short lived. 

With that in mind, we were on about lap 25 of the "Kitchen-to-Family Room Grand Prix" when he turned the corner in the kitchen too sharply and the right side of his head clipped a drawer handle.

The deep thud, and his bounce off the collision informed me that this was not a little boo-boo. But, to my surprise he kept on running another ten feet before stopping. 

He knelt down and rubbed the point of impact on the side of his head. At this point I was expecting tears and crying. And, justifiably so. I would have cried.

But, driven by some combination of adrenaline, dopamine and chocolate milk, he took barely 20 seconds before quickly pattering away. The race was back on. 

Now, I'll take chances with the best of them. But the bump into the drawer handle meant we'd tempted fate — and beat the SOB. However, I wasn't trying to go 2-0 in the same night. 

So, we changed the game to what I can only describe as the single stupidest playtime activity I've ever done with my son, ever. 

That's a pretty high bar — or is it pretty low?

In any event, I met the boy at home base (AKA the couch) and began distracting him from the termination of the previous game by beginning a new one called "Throw Your Kid Into a Pile of Pillows on the Couch."

As the clever name implies, this involves me kneeling on the floor, lifting him off the ground and lightly tossing him on the couch. He'd land, giggle, teeter to his feet, and I'd lift him and return him to the ground. 

Pictured at left: the offending drawer handle. He's eye-level with the
counter now. An unwelcome development as we've had to finally
get responsible with knives, forks, shredders, openers, plates. 
Toss. Pick up and return to the ground. Toss. Pick up and return to the ground. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. Right?

Nope. 

Swept up in the fun of the moment, the boy started skipping the "return to the ground" portion of the proceedings and simply began jumping from the couch into my arms.

Somehow, and in short order, this game mutated until I found myself lying on the floor, legs spread, feet resting on the couch as the boy stood above, perched and ready to jump on me. 

To recap: in my spur-of-the-moment, anything-goes horseplay world, I'd invented a game in which the boy is to jump off the couch with his father's crotch as his landing pad. 

It took just one jump to realize what I'd done. Fortunately, the boy landed on my stomach. I grabbed a large couch cushion for the remaining laugh-filled jumps.  

Finally (and mercifully) the boy grew tired and grabbed a book for us to read. As we read, I checked the spot where he'd bumped his head. No mark or visible bruise. We were good. 

The boy went to sleep easily and not long afterward Mrs. Blackwell returned, her evening of sports complete. It didn't take long for her to show me her arms, covered in bruises from bumping volleyballs. Her legs were sporting plenty of purple welts too. Ouch.

As for Master Blackwell? As of this morning no bruising and his mom is none the wiser, until now. 

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