Life Game: What’s Cool and What’s Lame

What’s up Gamers?

I’ve done it! I’ve got to Level 3 of Life Game and I’m becoming quite a pro. I’ve got to the stage where I can watch n00bs blundering about the training levels at Toddler Groups, trying to do Walk or Crawl (badly), and I can have a laugh at them or go up and give them some pointers.

I have also got to a point in the game where I have a pretty clear idea about what I like and what I don’t like. And I don’t see why anyone should try to make me do the bits of the game that are Lame. So in this episode of my Life Game Hacks, I thought I’d give you a run down of the bits I like and the bits I don’t like, and some tips on how to get any interfering busy-bodies (read: The Mummy) to butt out and let you get on with painting your underarms purple or whatever it was you were doing.

COOL STUFF

Painting – What could be more glorious than covering a piece of paper in bright colours using a brush? And your hands. And your knees. And then covering the table, the chair, the floor, your clothes, your hair, your arms and whatever you can get to before the Mummy is alerted to what you’re doing (she calls it Making a Mess but I say potato potahto). Painting is photo (9).JPGawesome.

Cake – With icing please. And every day please. And once I’ve licked the icing off you can pick the discarded spongy bit up off the floor yourself because I don’t need it anymore, thanks.

Teefee – Best. Thing. Ever. Princesses, Barbie, doggies, kitties, beautiful girls with starry Manga eyes, and they all go around rescuing people and eating cupcakes. It’s like my imagination has come to life! And you don’t have to make the characters talk for once so you can just sit back and recuperate some health points.

Tip! Teefee also gives you useful updates on what you could buy in the Shops (with your Mummy’s credits of course). When you spot an item from the Teefee, just point at it and shout at the top of your voice LOOK LOOK LOOK Mummy! It gets her to interact with the item, though I’m still working out how to actually move it to my inventory. Will keep you updated.

Role play – Why be yourself when you can so easily pretend to be someone else? When you interact with an NPC and they address you by your name, just give them a blast of your Charisma and say: “Do you mean: Dora?” You can use any TV character name of course. My current favourite is Princess Leia. Insist that all henchman and other players change their screen names to match your new identity, for instance, The Brother has to be Luke, the Daddy has to be Darth Vader and the Fairy Godmother is, obviously, Cheesebacca.

LAME STUFF

Stickers and colouring – The Mummy seems to think that these are somehow just as fun as Painting and should be an acceptable alternative. But she clearly does not understand what is so fun about Painting. How can you make a decent mess with stickers or crayons? Why would you want to colour inside the lines?? (Yuck)

Comics – Once you’ve got the toy off they’re pretty much useless. Juvenile stuff. I much prefer a decent novel: a bit of David Mitchell or Kate Atkinson will do.

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Preferred outfit in sub-zero temperatures

Warm clothes – ZOMG will they quit already with the coats and jumpers? Don’t they know that they cover up my pretty dresses?? I need to wear a dress, pref a summer dress, not trousers because they are for boys. That is stuff you know when you get to Level 3. Also, socks are nasty and unnecessary, just take them off anytime you can and abandon them wherever.

Playing with stuff I am allowed to play with – Where is the fun in that? Sure, I wanted to play with Skye, but once the Brother gave me his big cuddly Skye, I only got half the experience points for holding her. I had to start sneaking over to his Paw Patrol box to get the little Skye out, because that still gave me the triple experience for doing Thief missions.

Lame Stuff Avoidance Techniques

Here are some ways you can make it clear to the Mummy that her suggestions are lame:

1. When offered unacceptable dinner options, shout: “I SAID I not want dis food!!” Then push the bowl away. You can do this with drink as well, of course: “I SAID I want JUICE!” Then push the offending cup of water across the table so it tips over and soaks the Mummy’s supposedly important papers (my paintings look much more beautiful and she puts those in the recycling so I think this is only fair).

2. Cry. Just roll around on the floor or the sofa and do Crying, making as much noise as possible.

3. Hit. If no NPCs are within range, just whack the sofa or a toy. They have fewer hit points and break more easily so that has the added bonus of making a mess (again)

Well, there you go, it was a long one but I hope this points you in the right direction.

Got any requests for my next update? Let me know in the comments if there is a tricky bit of Life Game you are struggling with and I’ll do you a walk-through in my next post.

xoxox

The Girl

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Shock discovery: children are actual people

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One of the strange things about children is that they are real people.

I know it sounds obvious but bear with me.

They start off so totally dependent on you, with such limited methods of communication, that you spend quite a bit of time interpreting them and providing them with a voice that is not their own. “Oh, he’s just tired.” “Look, he looks so grumpy in that top, he obviously doesn’t like it.” “Oswald just adores Beethoven, don’t you Oswald?” I am totally guilty as charged, just read the Life Game posts.

It actually becomes a life long task for a parent to learn to accept your children as independent individuals with thoughts and ideas of their own.

When I started our summer of fun stuff, I had imagined myself in the role of Fun Bringer and Haver of Great Ideas. I filled our box with activities that I had come up with while the kids were asleep, hoping to surprise and delight them.

Instead, over the past two weeks, they have been surprising and delighting me. We have done about 7 or 8 cards since my last post, but our days have been full of fun and good ideas. Their good ideas. In fact, I found myself starting to write them down. And then making new cards, for next year, with the great games they came up with this summer.

There was the puppet show.

photo 2 (6)It came out of nowhere. One minute we were in the car, driving back from a boring supermarket trip. The next they were shouting: “Let’s have a puppet show!” And we were digging up the finger puppets and making a rudimentary theatre (a box lid on a kid’s chair with a quilt draped over it, in case you want to replicate our success), followed by a retelling of Goldilocks and the three bears using a princess, a tiger, an elephant and a lamb.

There was a plane outside, then a plane indoors. The pilot was a massive cuddly koala bear and the destination was, as always, Nediland (The Netherlands).

There were concerts of beautifully ambitious piano concertos, composed on the spot by one child and interrupted by the other. Then they would swap over.

There was Numberland. The floor was absolutely covered in numbers of all shapes and sizes and materials. It was a little traumatic for Mummy and Daddy, who tidied it all away as soon as the Boy was in bed.photo 3 (4)

There were many board games, which the Girl now understood enough to actually be a plausible participant in.

This just scratches the surface. Children have an amazing imagination. They are totally independent, totally new people, never seen before and utterly unique. Who was I to think they needed my ideas to have a great summer? Thank goodness I have them here, to brighten mine.

If you want to follow our summer Play-Along in greater detail, come and join me on Facebook, where I report on our activities as they happen.

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The Fantasy Worlds They Live In

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The Boy

“Mummy, will you play my fruit game? Here, press on a fruit sticker, and it will become REAL.

Mummy, now play my dog game. Which dog would you like? ZIP! Now it’s REAL!

Mummy, The Girl is making LOTS of pups! The dining room is full of pups. There are thirty-four of them now. This house is getting very full. There are not 97, not 98, not 99, but one hundred dogs now! Here, give this one a treat and it will grow even more.

Mummy, I can’t go to bed now, I need to do some more stickers on here. Ah, I’ll use the Easter egg stickers. If you press on an egg, it will come alive.

My house is really busy, because there are one hundred dogs, and one hundred Easter eggs, and one hundred of me as well.”

The Girl

In the car, the Girl suddenly sits up and says in alarm: “Mummy! There’s something behind us!”

Me: “What’s behind us?”

Her: “A fairy pony.”

Me: “Ah.”

Her: “It’s a magical pony. It can make us go super-fast.” Silence. “It’s coming through the seats.”

Another moment’s silence. Then very quietly she says: “Naughty magical pony.”

We drive along.

Her: “Talk to her Mummy.”

Me: “The magic pony can talk?”

Her: “Talk to her.”

Me: “Hi Magic Pony. Where do you live?”

Magic Pony: “Into my story cave.”

Me: “Okay. And do you have a special friend?”photo 1 (6)

Magic Pony: “Yes! It’s the star one. It’s a little star. But I can’t find her! She’s lost! She’s in terrible trouble!”

Her: “Don’t worry, Pony. We’ll help you.”

Pony: “Oh, thank you.”

Her: “Magic Pony, are you make us go super-fast?”

Pony: “Yes, course!”

Her: “Oh great.”

My Own Fantasy World

Me: “Kids, it’s 5.45am. It is not morning. It is the middle of the night. Why don’t you go back to sleep, or read quietly in your bed?”

Five minutes later, there is a sound most like a herd of elephants galloping on the landing, followed by piercing shrieks and sobbing because the Girl has taken one of the Boy’s 25 favourite cuddlies and insists it is hers.

Five minutes after that, Team Umizoomi is on TV and I am making myself a cup of tea, fantasising about when they are teenagers and sleep until midday.

Life Game: I made it to Level 2!!!

Hey there Life Gamers,

 

Well, I did it. I made it to level 2! And boy is it amazing. Let me give you a run down:

Levelling up gets better and better

Last year when I reached Level 1 there was a bit of fuss (cupcakes, a pretty dress, a shape sorter bus), but it turns out that levelling up just gets better as you go up the levels. This year when I levelled up there was a cake with TINY EDIBLE FLOWERS (I knew it. All tiny objects in Life Game are actually made of sugar. No one is going to stop me trying ‘Eat’ on tiny objects ever again!). Also, the Living Room had transformed and there were paper garlands and balloons everywhere.

Then there were lots of amazing new toys for my inventory. There was a little house with two tiny rabbits to live in it (+10 Imagination, +15 Happiness). The little rabbits had a tiny little stove with a tiny little pan with a tiny little omelette – obviously I had to try Eat on the omelette, having just discovered that probably everything is made of sugar, like I said. Then the omelette and several other tiny items disappeared and I haven’t found them again. Weird.

There was also a Peppamog Pig tree house (+10 Fun) and some books (+5 Wisdom each, +10 Knowledge of the World) and…

… a new henchman. A travelling companion to accompany me on all my adventures. Yes, when I levelled up I got my very own, cuddly Mog the cat. Words cannot express my joy. Mog has not left my side since this day and has been a source of much happiness.

But anyway, on to the new skills and other features that come with Level 2:

 

+20 Willpower

Who would have thought you’d get such a massive boost? Clearly there are going to be a lot of difficult confrontations with high level sorcerers and so on in this level. The increase in willpower can be used for all sorts of important things, like avoiding having to wear a coat. What you do is Stamp Feet, Pout Lip, Fold Arms and then choose the Princess conversation options: “NO, not coat! I PWINCESS!!”

NOT COAT

NOT COAT!

It is also absolutely essential for avoiding getting poisoned. At some point you will find that the Mummy tries to feed you some rubbish about having to take this medicine because it is good for you blah blah blah (I stopped listening). You MUST NOT allow this medicine to pass your lips, because it is actually POISON. You can see from the red glow around the bottle. The best thing to do here is Flail Arms, Turn Head Away, Cry, and just shout NO as much as you can. If you make good rolls on your willpower the Mummy will probably start crying too and give up. But hide her phone because she might try Phoning for Help and then you are screwed.

Finally, if you fail a Willpower check, the best way to save the situation is by attacking the character that beat you. At Level 2 you have some powerful new weapons that can be used for a retaliation attacks: Grump, Huff, Spit, Push and Whack.

 

Jump

How awesome is jump? I knew it was going to be great. I’ve been trying to copy the Brother for ages, and for a while I thought all you had to do was bend your knees and say “Jump!”, but it turns out what you really need to do is level up. Now I can do it! I can make both my feet lift off the ground at the same time! This is the beginning of great things, I can feel it. At level 3 I can probably pick Flying.

 

Mimic

This guy got it all wrong.

This guy got it all wrong.

Source: RiddlewraithRP3

Putting all that XP into Imagination has really paid off. At level 2 I had enough Imagination to pick an excellent Special Ability called Mimic. This allows you to take on the characteristics of another character or an animal, which allows you to take part in Pretend Games with the Brother, or to sneak past the security in heavily guarded special areas in order to acquire precious and rare objects (this last use is still just a theory, but I am expecting great results on my imminent trip to the Tower of London). This is how to use Mimic: basically, you select who or what you want to be and simply declare it, followed by an explanatory sound:

“I’m a cat! Meow, meow!”

“I’m Milli! Milli measure!” (Milli from Team Umizoomi, of course)

“I’m an aeroplane! Neeeeeeeeeeeow!”

Finally, laugh loudly at your own funny joke. Repeat until tired or hungry.

 

stripesChoosing Robes

Another fantastic use for your Willpower is combining it with your Charisma to choose your own robes. It turns out that you don’t just have to wear whatever the Mummy puts on you in the morning. You can use Speak Language (English) or Speak Language (Dutch) to indicate your preferences and then the Mummy, charmed by your charisma and coerced by your willpower, will usually take those items out of your clothing chest and help you put them on. So if you run into me in Life Game nowadays, you’ll see me rocking the stripes (“Striiiiiiipes!!!”) or starry tights (“Look Mummy! Stars!”) or anything with cute animals on it (“Chute!”)

 

Expressing Love

I would like to finish this report on the joys of level 2 by disclosing a secret. I have discovered a never ending source of Happiness. I used Listen to discover what it is that the Mummy and the Daddy and the Brother say to me when they give me those wonderful hugs that fill up my Hug-bar. Then I combined Speak with Express Feelings to do the same. Let me tell you, saying “I’m love you” to your family just increases all the hugs and kisses. It turns out, when you give out love, you get even more back and your Happiness is for ever and always overflowing. Especially when you use bad grammar to do it (+5 Cute).

 

Well, Gamers, I have no idea what is ahead in the levels to come, but I feel like I’ve pretty much cracked it already here at Level 2. I am invincible and full off happiness and love and I’m wearing a pretty butterfly top. What more could anyone want?

Keep at it, all of you, and see you on the forums!

Love & kisses,

The Girl

 

Important note to regular readers: you may have noticed that there have not been very many new secrets in the sandpit. The Mummy has decided to focus more on creative writing, so posts on here are going to be few and far between. If you want to keep up with Mummy’s poetry and fiction, come and follow her other blog: http://judithkingston.wordpress.com/

Amazing Art

The Boy’s art work has been developing behind closed doors. That is, at pre-school. When he started in January, the only subject matter for paintings that was of any interest to him was, you guessed it, numbers. At home he would draw, stencil, paint and playdough solely to make more and more numbers. Then the numbers would need to be cut out and they could travel all over the house solving crimes and plotting world domination (I may be embellishing a bit here).

I still get a lot of large sheets of paper with numbers back from pre-school. However, other things have started to appear too. Sometimes he brings home a painting of me, or of his sister. Occasionally there might be a rudimentary animal/monster-thing.

Summer holidays now, and finally, one afternoon, I got to witness the New Art. The Boy sat down with his watercolours (LIDL’s finest) and set about making paintings for “everyone”. He spent a good hour or so, producing picture after picture, putting them all on the window sill to dry.

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He made rainbows.

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and a tiger…

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and more and more and more rainbows that got better and better, looking for “violet” and “indigo”, not boring old purple.

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He even tried new techniques, like flicking the paint from the paintbrush onto the paper.

The piece de resistance, which I sadly did not have a chance to photograph before he stuffed it into his tiny backpack for some undisclosed but of course totally logical reason, was a car with a sky above and a road below in appropriate colours.

I just looked on in awe at his flair, his imagination, and his colourful mind splashed onto a whole window sill full of amazing art.

Not My Year Off

Mannies

The Girl loves tiny people. Happyland, Playmobil, Duplo, Fischer Price – she’s not picky. She loves clutching them in her hand and wandering around with them, making them talk to each other, putting them in little cars.

Mannies

The thing that really tickles me is that she calls them “Mannies”. I think this is her interpretation of the Dutch word mannetjes, which means “little men”.

She’ll walk a tiny Happyland pirate up the stairs, warning him: “Tareful, Mannie!”

Mannie climb

Mannies love climbing. They spend all day going up and down the bookcase, exploring the window sill or the back of the sofa and hopping up on kitchen counters.

mannie bookcase

Mannies are often sad, but thankfully the other Mannies are empathetic and supportive. “Waaa, waaaa. Oh, Mannie cry! What matter, Mannie?”

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Mannies don’t always behave as the Girl would wish them to. This one did not want to have a suitcase attached to his head, much to her annoyance.

Mannies get chased by dinosaurs, then make friends with them and go for rides on their back. When asked if they feel like watching TV, a Mannie will always say yes.

Mannies are ubiquitous, male or female, and do not need to be made of plastic.

Oh!” says the Girl, pointing out of the car window at a window cleaner walking by. “Mannie ladder! Haha, funny Mannie.”

 

Mannie walking

Mannie walking

Mannies skating

Mannies skating

Mannies bicycle

Mannies cycling

 

Sun, sea and Numberjacks

This was the first time we’d been on a proper holiday abroad for two years. Those two years obviously made a massive difference to how The Boy experienced the adventure. He joined in the anticipation, for one, and in the days leading up to our departure would ask whether we were going to the seaside today and whether his fire engine (his Trunki ride on suitcase) could come. He also picked up on our destination. On the plane he kept repeating, his eyes wide with wonder:  “Going-a Spain.” The Girl was less impressed with the flight, and screamed non-stop during the second hour, finally falling into an exhausted slumber as we landed and had to get off.

We arrived at the apartment late at night, the kids asleep in the car. We carried them straight up to bed. The next morning, I greeted the Boy with: “You’re in Spain!” For the rest of the week, he was convinced that ‘Spain’ was the apartment and would ask to go “back to Spain” when he’d had enough of a trip to the supermarket or an outing that didn’t include enough snacks. We tried explaining that Spain was a country, just like England or The Netherlands, and that the supermarket, the beach and the park were all in Spain too, but to no avail. By the end of the trip we just went along with it, wearily confirming that yes, there were ice creams back in Spain and he could have one once we got there.

He was initially a bit disappointed that there was no television in Spain, but being a resourceful little chap, he had soon rectified this by commissioning me to make all the Numberjacks, their enemies and accessories out of paper and acting out episodes with them endlessly; assigning all the toy cars we’d brought identities from Roary the Racing Car; designating the plants on the balcony as The Veggies from Mr Bloom and casting his two Duplo polar bears (the one in the plane and the one in the car) in the roles of Splish and Splash from Iconicles (or Icono-barnacles, as he insists the program is called). This kept him occupied for hours. There were even some interesting mash ups, like when Roary crashed and the Numberjacks came to rescue him with some brain gain.

There were also plenty of amazing fun things to do outdoors. Going to the beach quickly became number one favourite, even warranting a little song: “Going-a beach is fuuuuuun!” Building sandcastles, digging holes, sunbathing next to mummy and washing hands at the special fountain were instant hits. The sea took some getting used to. He wanted to keep a safe distance at first and was very worried that the waves would come and get us, but slowly he and the sea made friends and he was happy to play by the water’s edge, writing numbers in the sand.

Meanwhile, the Girl practised walking, played with her brother’s toys, fell over and hurt herself, got lots of cuddles, learned to say “uh oh” but not when to say it other than to get a laugh from the rest of the family, played in the sand for ages and spent a lot of the nights awake. Goodness knows why, but she’s a baby and doesn’t need a reason.

The flight back was in the middle of the night. The Boy had doggedly stayed awake during the 45 minute car ride to the airport, saying “bye bye” to all the cars we passed, and was still awake when we took off. Finally, around midnight, he dropped off, his head resting on Daddy’s arm, just as the Girl woke from a blissful slumber. She spent the flight charming all the other passengers with beaming smiles.

We arrived home in the dead of night and put the Girl straight to bed. The Boy was not having it. He was far too excited to be home. He greeted the cats with great delight and then wanted to dive into his favourite activities. “Watch Chloe’s Closet,” he insisted. “Watch Numberjacks?” When TV turned out not to be an option, he found his paper Numberjacks again and had to be dragged away from them with hissed threats and bribes to stop him screaming the house down and waking his sister and the lodger.

Spain was great, but clearly, nothing beats S house.

Drawing in Spain

Drawing in Spain

What we do when we’re not watching television

This past week we have been holed up at home in quarantine with chicken pox. Thankfully the Boy doesn’t seem to be suffering too much with it – perhaps being an eczema-veteran means he doesn’t notice a bit of extra itchiness here and there. I wasn’t too sure how I’d cope with being at home so much. I like to plan outings most days: seeing friends or visiting Gran, going into town or to a play cafe, visiting the library or the playground. But after having already potentially infected about 9 different little children just before we noticed the spots I thought it best not to spread the love any further, cancel all play dates and avoid public places.

Actually, it has been really nice being at home. Turns out my high stress level is at least in part due to trying to get two children out of the house and into buggies and cars. We have watched quite a bit of television, but we have actually also had a lovely time playing and doing drawing and craft. Most of it was re-enacting what the Boy had been watching on TV, but that counts, right?

When the weather was nice, we played in the garden. The Boy invented his very own messy play game, making mud and pretending to pour slop into the ship’s mess (Swashbuckle). It was actually a mash up with Roary the Racing Car. The two cars you see in the ship’s mess are Roary and “Roary’s friend”.

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Re-enacting television shows continues indoors. We have had endless fun with the cars, the garage and the car-rug playing Roary. Sometimes the Girl is allowed to play too, but she is never allowed to touch Roary.

Oh no! Roary's broken! Big Crisp [Chris] fix it.

Oh no! Roary’s broken! Big Crisp [Chris] fix it.

Cbeebies pirate game show Swashbuckle is a source of lots of frantic running around and dangerous capers, as the Boy jumps off the side of the sofa shouting “Walk the plank! Walk the plank!” We have used coloured bricks to represent jewels and hidden them around the house, then we rush around trying to find them while the Boy yells “Time running out! 3, 2, 1, yay!” He actually hides them himself, and then wants to find them himself, which suits me fine.

Then Z, our lodger, turned out to own an actual, honest to God jewel. Well, a diamond-shaped paperweight but close enough. Since she showed it to the Boy, it has been almost impossible to prise it out of his hands. The first evening found him sitting hunched up on the sofa with it, muttering “Love-a jewel. Is mine now.” Yes, he had turned into Gollum.

The Precious

The Precious

We have had quite a lot of mileage out of the bricks this week, actually. They have been used as a tiny cat playground:

Weeeee!

Weeeee!

And they became a house for Upsy Daisy:

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And what about the Girl? Well, she likes toys, but she prefers to play with the wet wipes, the remote control and my bag. She also likes crawling under the table to see if there are any left-overs from last night’s dinner to hoover up. We got her a fancy walker with a ‘play tray’.

Everything a ten month old baby could want, surely.

Everything a ten month old baby could want, surely.

But when I put her in it, thinking I could maybe do some washing up, she cries and whines – until I take the play tray off and give her a cardboard box and some pegs. Then she’s happy.

A child's hand is easily filled, as we say in the Netherlands.

A child’s hand is easily filled, as we say in the Netherlands.

So quarantine has been quite a positive experience, with an unusually low number of tantrums and irrational crying fits – and that’s just me.

Pretend Living

I love being a grown up. I love the fact that sometimes people believe what I say now, that they seem to think I know what I’m talking about. And I like having a house of my own and filling it with stuff. I just sometimes wish I was better at keeping it tidy and clean. Sometimes there is a run of several days where I have occupied myself with more interesting things than housework and it becomes so bad that it really gets me down. It is on those days that I wish I was a child again, when even cleaning had a mysterious sheen of glamour about it, something special that grown-ups did that meant you were Big.

This poem is about how really I’d quite like to move into my children’s Wendy house.

Doing pretend washing up

Doing pretend washing up

Pretend living

My dream house is standing in my garden right now
Blue roof, pink door, little shutters
open shut open shut
endlessly
spend the day
just open shuttering
Then hiding away inside in the shade
Plastic tap, pretend cooking, a pretend cup of tea

I spent most of my childhood pretending to be
Mary Poppins, ballerina, a barmaid,
or just an older version of me
older smarter
spend the day
rowing my bicycle like a canoe
pretend nineteenth century laundry
teaching skating to students only visible to me

Real life isn’t always what the Wendy house promised
Real cooking, real laundry, real washing up,
cycle recycle plodding on
endlessly
spend the day
making money and plates dirty
Then hiding away under the duvet: can it just go away?
If I wish really hard, will it all turn to plastic and back into a game?

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought.

Who shall I be this week?

The Toddler is Peter Rabbit this week.

A few weeks ago, he was Mickey Mouse. He announced his new identity to me one day, and then he assigned identities to everyone else: I was Minnie Mouse, the Baby was Pluto and Daddy was quite annoyed to discover that he was Goofy. Before that, we were Numberjacks. The Toddler was Numberjack 2, the Baby was Numberjack zero, I was number 7 and Daddy was number 8. We ourselves had suggested that he was number 2, trying to explain the concept of ‘age’ to him. We were never sure whether he’d got it, and whether our own numbers had been assigned reflecting how old the Toddler thought we were, or whether it was our status in the house or just how much he liked the Numberjacks in question. When a (21 year old) friend of ours came to visit and was told she was Numberjack 9 we gave up trying to work it out and just went with it.

I find this role playing fascinating. As a child, I would get completely caught up in stories and want to live in them. I would change my name to that of the main character of my favourite book and insist my family and friends call me by it (usually something archaic and unfortunate, as I read a lot of Enid Blyton and The Worst Witch and so on). Every week, I had a ballet class with three of my friends, and our parents would take it in turns to get us there. As one family did not own a car, they got us to ballet by taxi. We loved this, as we got to go on our own and lie about our names. I would tell the driver I was called Mildred or Darryl and be someone else the next week, terrified meanwhile that one day we’d get the same driver we’d had before and he would rumble us.

But I was about nine at the time. My son is two and a half and he already has this longing to live in stories.

With the Numberjacks, he definitely acts out episodes, but with his paper numbers, not by pretending to be a Numberjack himself. He will launch number 3 and find a three to land on in the house, and once I drew the puzzler for him and he wanted me to trap all the numbers in Puzzler bubbles.

When he discovered Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, it was the Mouskatools that followed us into every day life. If something went wrong, the Toddler would helpfully suggest that a Mouskatool could help Mummy’s car drive faster or bring more Shreddies when they’d run out.

Now, it’s Peter Rabbit, his new discovery. He is Peter Rabbit, of course. I am Mummy Rabbit. His baby sister is Cotton Tail. He will ask me: “Oh! Where’s Cotton Tail?” Or: “Look, Cotton Tail trying to stand!” Or if she is yawning in her car seat: “Cotton Tail is really tired. Wants a little sleep. Oh, poor Cotton Tail.” Somehow this is just irresistibly cute and expresses his love for her perfectly. She is Peter Rabbit’s little sister, an adorable little rabbit who sometimes gets in the way of his best laid plans.

Last night, I was Mr Tod. This was new. I’d never before been a baddie and I wasn’t sure what was expected of me. So as my son skipped, rabbit style, up the stairs, I followed him slowly and said I was coming to get him, trying to stay on the right side of scary. But I needn’t have worried. The Toddler fed me my line: “I smell rabbit!” I repeated this obligingly.

Mr Tod does bedtime. Image from childrensnursery.org.uk

Mr Tod does bedtime. Image from childrensnursery.org.uk

It turned out that Mr Tod gets a lot more done. He was allowed to brush the Toddler’s teeth without a fuss, he managed to change his nappy and he was even allowed to pick the two bedtime stories. Mr Tod wanted stories with foxes in them. The Toddler approved. One of the stories was in Dutch, but Mr Tod had to read it, so I translated it on the fly. I read both of them slowly, with that calm, sophisticated menace that the character has on TV. My son loved it. Mr Tod tucked him in and counted to twenty as he stroked Peter Rabbit’s fur.

I snuck in a goodnight kiss at the end. Thankfully that was allowed.