The Frustration of Playing 'Games' with Toddlers
When Henry was a tiny baby, he used to stare at me from his bouncer, completely oblivious to my one-way conversation, or perhaps bored to tears by the tenth round of peek-a-boo (Where's Mummy gone? Oh, she's behind the blanket again, fancy that). I remember longing for him to get a bit bigger so I could interact with him properly. You know, play proper games.
These days, as he climbs on me and throws Play-Doh at my head, I would quite like that baby back. Except now I have another baby. Who largely sits in that same bouncer looking worried at the flying Duplo debris and alarmed by his toddler brother's Darth Vader impression.
The truth is, you can't really play games with toddlers at all. You can try. Oh, how you'll try. But unless you have a bucketful of patience (and I don't even have a thimbleful - seriously, zero patience here) it can be THE most frustrating way to spend a day. If you don't yet own a toddler, here's what you can expect...
'I'll be Chelsea, mummy. You be Liverpool.' Excellent. Goals are set up, baby is attached to your person in baby carrier/wrap to avoid impact damage … you shimmy into position to 'save' the shot that will never come close to the goal and he starts crying, 'Don't stop the ball Mummy. MUMMY! It has to GO in there.' Your explanation of the whole point of the game falls on deaf ears. So basically, you stand there and compliment the goals he scores in a Keeper-less net from a 30cm range.
This game is pretty basic. You get down on the floor and 'drive' a tiny car, following the path of the toddler's tiny car. Sometimes this will be a race. You will be required to make annoying engine noises. The only hard and fast rule is that you get the shittier car. And never win.
Hide and Seek
Get your best poker face and annoying parent voice ready (you know the one, and if you don't just go up a pitch) because your toddler will tell you where they are going to hide. Or, after counting to ten, you will see him very obviously lying on the sofa with only his head concealed by a cushion, giggling and/or farting with excitement, and the whole 'no sign of him here!' charade starts. Initially quite amusing, the fun factor soon wears off as you 'search' the living room for the blatantly visible small person for the seventy-sixth time. Sigh.
You can make this game work to your advantage by sending them upstairs to hide and then counting to at least one hundred before continuing to periodically shout 'hmmm no sign in the kitchen' or 'definitely not in this cupboard.' On a good day, this can buy you ten minutes to eat a Kit Kat Chunky sort out some washing. On a really good day they will hide in their bed and fall asleep by the time you get there. Winning.
Relatively new, this one, filtering into houses nationwide. The toddler will want to 'act out' the film. I was pretty excited about the prospect of a bit of Am Dram before breakfast - anything beats sodding cars!
Henry: 'You be Anna, Mummy. I'm Elsa. Go behind that door.'
Excellent. Act Two, Scene One commences...
Me: *coughs ready to sing* 'Do you want to build a snowman?'
Henry: 'YES PLEASE!!'
Face palm. Seen it one hundred times and still lacking comprehension of the main plot theme.
Because the urge to wail "YOU'RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!" can be overwhelming. As can the desire to scream at the mess unfolding before your eyes. 'Can we get some glitter out?' *sobs a bit.* I don't know where they find the kids on Mister Maker but mine won't follow any instruction and actually make or paint anything.
In the end, YOU will paint a picture of a sheep and display it in your kitchen, with the footnote: 'By Henry, Aged 2'. You are only lying to yourself.