This is how my children play. “Want to jump on me, Jakey?” says my four year old to my two year old. “Yes,” says the cutest wrestler there ever was. And so, to others what looks like fighting, is really playing. Because they’re boys? Perhaps. Because I want them to sit at the table and finish their ham sandwiches? For sure. Playing well with each other usually occurs when they are supposed to be doing something else: eating, leaving the house, crossing the road. And don’t think I’m just a spectator. When Jakey is down for a nap, Nathan asks me to play with him. “Let’s fight, Mommy.” I tell him no, I suggest other games, I offer him TV, my computer, chocolate, but nothing gives. He wants to spar and he wants to spar now. So, there I am, wrestling my 4 year old to the ground. I don’t know why this is so wonderful and even funny to him, but it is. And for me- it feels pretty good too. For the first 2 minutes. But he wants me to play forever. Mercifully, it usually ends soon enough with one of us crying because of an accidental finger to the eye.
I tried to outwit my boys in the backyard the other day. “Who wants to play pick up the pine cones with me?” I shouted enthusiastically. “I do!” they both yelled, and off we went, collecting about 400 to 800 pine cones (I’m guessing here… let’s say a lot) in two large pails. I felt like a hero, as smart as Tom Sawyer, when the ultimate twist came. “Yay! Let’s do it again!” And Nathan whipped those pine cones to all corners of the earth. At least, before my craftiness, the offending pine cones were under the pine tree and a bit to the left. Now, those pine cones were every freaking where.
And they always have to win. I can’t walk down the stairs first, leave the house first, or get my dessert first. Some child of mine is pushing past me to victory. It can be annoying, especially those mornings when I am almost at the bottom of the stairs, so close to my coffee, and Nathan is yelling from his top bunk “Stop Mommy! I’m coming! And I’m going to beat you!” As sleep deprived as I am, I see that he gives me a gift. The reminder that life is a game, so just have fun. And we do. Hand slapping at the table, playing with empty boxes, rolling the cork from the wine bottle at dinner. We’re always playing.(And drinking apparently..!) And I look at those little champions, demanding rematch after rematch, and I smile, knowing that I have already won.