Games At Our House

A little while ago, on a quiet evening in the living room, Nathan pulled me to the middle of the room and had me sit down right next to his swinging rope. He began to arrange the rope so that it draped over my back, fussing about with it in a business-like fashion. Then he went over to a low shelf nearby and typed for several minutes on it, all the while staring intently at the wall behind the shelf. “Beep!” he finally said, loudly, and came back over. “I give you x-ray,” he told me, as he began to rearrange the rope. (Nathan had some x-rays when he went to the dentist last fall.) Apparently I needed multiple x-rays, because we repeated the process several times. He even re-created the standard chit-chat: “You have fun driving today?” he asked me as he worked, in exactly the same polite, distracted tone that gets used for such filler conversations. He nodded in response to my equally formulaic answer, then went back to his computer.

He can be all sorts of vehicles at a moment’s notice. If he’s just running around the house making loud sounds he’s probably being a truck. If he has his arms folded across his chest, though, he’s being a school bus, and when he stops he opens his arms like the bars on the front of the bus and requires me to put children into him. If he’s carrying around one of our rectangular plastic bins at arms-length in front of him, he’s a front-loader, and is likely to scoop up imaginary dirt and pour it on me. Occasionally we hook together so that he can be a truck and me the trailer, or we can be a train. Occasionally he’s a tow truck and needs to hook onto me to pull me out of the ditch.

And then, of course, there’s The Monster Game. “You want be monster?” he says to me hopefully, at least three or four times every day. Early on we experimented with nice monsters, tickle monsters, growly monsters, Christmas monsters (they eat Christmas, in case you’re wondering; no, I’m not sure exactly what that entails either), etc. Now he only wants me to be a scary/mean/growly monster — they all mean the same thing. Basically it means that I growl at him, chase him around, eat various toys and other objects with ravenous ferocity when offered them, and then growl some more. Every once in a while he’ll kiss me on the cheek to turn me into a nice monster, but he almost immediately asks me to revert. Scary monsters are apparently the most fun.

I think we may also have imaginary friends around the house. Or at least, he occasionally calls “Zana” on the phone and talks to her about current events. (This pronunciation is distinct from Santa, and also from Annabelle, one of his friends in playgroup.) And then the other night Dave produced an imaginary kitten, which we played with all through bedtime — passing it around and petting it, mewing softly, carefully moving it aside before lying down on the pillow. Recently we also found two baby monsters in his closet, which we had to take shopping with us, because their mother wasn’t there and they needed someone to take care of them.

It’s easy to be absorbed only in what Nathan is doing, since it’s new and exciting. But to be fair, Ryan is constantly doing new and exciting things too. With such constant modeling, he can play monster with the best of them, can pretend to eat things (including me, if we’re playing monster), will frequently drive toy trucks around making motor noises, and absolutely adores The Hiding Game. Really, they both like that one — it’s the game where we hide under a blanket. Sometimes someone is outside the blanket; sometimes we’re all inside. Who are we hiding from? I don’t know; I think it’s just fun to be under a blanket.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow is another new and exciting day, filled with a world of possibilities.

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