If you have already read to your kids every book you own, twice; if you can’t stand to listen to them whine of boredom or watch them systematically turn on each other like a pack of hyenas, (Besides, the last chapter, “In the Dirt and Trees” only works during sunny days), then perhaps you are ready to pull out the big guns! One such canon of colossal conflagration was a game we made up today called “Guess Which One!”
In this totally free interactive and intense game of competitive imaginations, you ask a question. For example, I planted two flowers but fertilized only one. Guess which one will grow faster. My kids would then make their guesses. I held out my fists with my thumbs tucked inside. Day 1- they both started to grow and a knuckle sprouted. Day 2- both thumbs could be seen just out of the dirt/fist. Then Day 3- the one I had picked in my mind would win and I’d stick the winning thumb up high. Feel free to antagonize a little with cheers for the victorious flower and sobs for the stubby little loser flower.
We were sitting in a circle and it was the next person’s turn to make up a choice between their thumbs. There were only a few rules we had to establish: No matter what story you made up for your hands, you couldn’t add to the story after the time of choice began. Another for the guessers was you have to stick with your first choice, no 2nd guesses! And the last one was more for the person creating the story- choose whichever hand you want to win first before you begin telling your story. A couple of times I got caught up in my own story and forgot to choose. It’s a bad idea to choose afterward. It’s even worse to tell your kids you did.
If the plant story doesn’t do ‘it’ for your kids, some other ideas were: Two stubborn warriors from opposite directions came to a bridge at the same time and fought over who would cross first. Have your hands fight to reveal the winner. We also did one of a lumberjack who had run out of firewood. There were two trees in the forest that he chose to cut down. Which one would he choose first? I put my elbows on the table and held my hands up. I made the sound effect of a creaky falling tree and shouted, “Timber!!!” The hand that fell was the winner. Another option could be a story of two oil tycoons that were drilling for a new well. Who would strike oil first? I made the drilling sound and slowly lowered my hands pointing them down. After the guesses were tallied, the winning hand would strike oil and my hand shot up and waved oil all around. The only limit is the story you create.
Now, for the tallied points and winning the game: Make up a goal like- first to 5 points or 10 wins. We didn’t have a limit which kept the game going indefinitely. My sons took up on the cue from my hand warriors and grabbed lego ones and had them fight. If you guessed the winner the point was yours. My daughter grabbed two of her books and asked questions about them. If you chose correctly you got the point. It got intense as I changed things like the bridge keeper in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. I said whichever hand the last player chooses would automatically lose and take all the points with them. The first two whispered their choices to me which happened to be the same hand, and then the third- with maybe a little glance from me toward the one they chose, made his choice. Zeros all around! A little later after we got back up in points, I wanted some chocolate so I turned my points in for a bar. Again, no limits!
We all are facing this viratic-time with varying degrees of difficulty. Maybe playing a game with sanitized hands will help your family survive with a smile. If not, and this cannon’s a dud, then at least make up a song and give your hyenas some background music.