Life Game: Dealing with Rivals

devastation

This used to be a… ah who cares?

Yo Gamers,

WARNING: Following the advice in this post will shift your alignment towards Evil. If you’re okay with that – read on.

I am finding more and more that the Brother is a) in my way; b) hogging the cool adults (esp Daddy); c) not letting my princess dolls join in his quests; d) singing when I want him to be quiet; e) moaning about my singing.

So, what do you do when some other player really gets on your nerves in Life Game?

The Mummy says you use words not hands. From what I’ve seen in Life Game the more usual option is to gang up on them with all your mates and kill their character, but I’ve found there are slower, more painful ways to get your own back, and in this episode I’d like to share them with you.

Destroy their stuff

Simple: find all their rare items and destroy them. While they watch. This increases their Distress but also their Outrage, plus it counts as a Sneak Attack because they never expect you to be that brazen.

There are plenty of fun destruction options to choose from. Personally I like to find the Brother’s scrolls and use ‘Scribble’ or ‘Cut (scissors)’, but if you don’t have either of those skills yet, using ‘Trample’ on Lego models or towers of bricks is just as effective (see picture above).

Get them into trouble

Be patient. Sooner or later, the Brother will gently brush past you, or accidentally step on a corner of the drawing you’re doing, and that is when you start screaming for The Mummy. I find some very distressed Crying does wonders and makes The Mummy come faster. Then you complain loudly that the Brother pushed you, and RUINED your drawing. If you play this right and really dial up the hurt and outrage the Brother will get Told Off. Score.

NB Get extra points by following up Get into Trouble with Gloat: “I’m sitting nicely, aren’t I, Mummy?”

Block their quests

So they don’t want you to join in their projects? Fine, then the next time they need you, you will be unavailable. Just say no to anything they ask you:

“Let’s play Pokémon!”

Your answer? “No, I don’t want to.”

Be strong. Even if you actually would like nothing better than to pretend to be Pikachu, say no! It will make him very upset.

Similarly, when asked to decide on something to watch together, whatever the Brother suggests, say no. At all costs avoid coming to a compromise! Compromising is for n00bs.

Spoil the Game

If you are really very super upset (for example, if the Brother got to go to the baker’s with Opa and you didn’t, or he got to ride in the Daddy’s car and you didn’t, or if the Babysitter isn’t coming until tomorrow), then there is nothing for it. You have to Spoil the Game. And I mean spoil the entire game, for the whole server. Let them feel your wrath! Show them your power! They’ll be sorry!!

I find the best way to do this is to launch a SuperScream attack. Don’t let up. Make it constant, so that none of the other players can get in between with counterspells or try to bribe you with cool items (be strong!). Use Cry, Shout, Kick, Shriek – anything that causes a massive fuss.

When the Mummy asks what the matter is, just make sure your explanation is hidden in sobs so she can’t quite make it out. Before you know it, the Brother will join in and start shouting at you, then the Mummy will shout at both of you and the game will be ruined for everyone.

Then just sit back, relax and suck your fingers, happily surveying the chaos and upset you have caused. A job well done.

Hopefully, these tips will help you crush your rivals with style. As always, let me know if you find any other cool hacks that will help put the Brother firmly in his place.

Laterz peeps,

xxxxxThe Girl

 

 

Life Game: The Brother

Hey there Gamers,

I’m pretty much blazing Level 1. An average day will find me clocking time with the toy garage or the board books to get my xp up and then blowing it all on vocabulary. My latest discoveries are “Daisy” (gets you access to In the Night Garden books and TV shows), “seep” (the name for an undesirable state of affairs where the character you want to interact with is unconscious) and “am” (this can be added to bread to make sandwiches).

But what I want to talk about today is that very special person you might be lucky enough to run into in Life Game: The Brother.

The Brother has been around ever since I started playing and seems to be in control of the game a lot of the time. He controls what appears on the Awesome Viewing Device and also has ways of influencing what food appears on the table. I’ve been observing him closely and as always, the trick seems to be gathering more words. I’ve been trying it out myself and have had some success with words like juice and cheese.

"No! You cannot play with my tower!"

“No! You cannot play with my tower!”

It’s always a good idea to check out what the Brother is doing, because he has a lot of cool stuff that you can use. You do have to be really careful only to use it while he is looking the other way, otherwise he uses Snatch on you and it is gone again. In fact, try not to look like you’re enjoying anything you are playing with while in the Brother’s field of vision or the item will disappear from your inventory and reappear in his. This is an extremely annoying trait but I have recently mastered a skill that trumps Snatch: it’s called Snitch. Basically, using Snitch involves a loud cry of anguish and the repeated use of “Mama!” This will summon the Mummy who will use what seems like Snatch on the Brother, but is really a higher level skill called Discipline. Details, details, I know – the most important thing is that the item is back in your inventory, you get a “Sorry” from the Brother and you can carry on playing with the toy. Or abandon it for something more interesting that has caught your eye during the conflict sequence.

The Brother comes with a lot of entertainment options. He can sing no end of brilliant songs with actions, and you can play running, chasing and hiding games with him which really boost your Happiness. The best game is “Round and round the garden”, where you hold hands and he spins you round and round and then tickles you. Word of warning though: games with the Brother do have a tendency to drain your energy levels and you often take some damage due to falls and bumps or getting squished.

Squishing: this is something that deserves a special mention/warning. Although the Brother is a friendly character, he does come with some “hostile” traits. If you see the words “A is very cute, I want to hug A” float above his head, run for the Mummy as fast as you can. If you don’t manage to get away, he will grab you around the waist (if you’re lucky) or the neck (if you’re unlucky), squeeze as hard as he can, tackle you to the ground and throw his full weight on you. The number of hit points this will cost you depends on how he grabbed you and whether your head hit any furniture on the way down, as well as on the response time of the Mummy. Basically, running away is your best bet, and get a head start because he is both stronger and faster than you.

"Mama! A is playing with the tower!"

“Mama! A is playing with the tower!”

Another annoying feature of the Brother is that he’s got Snitch too. So when you’re minding your own business, pouring out the entire contents of your beaker of juice onto the dining table, he will pipe up: “Mama! A. is pouring juice!” Or when you’re gleefully pulling your shoes and socks off in the back of the car, he will say: “Mama! A. is taking her shoes off! No Baby, don’t take your shoes off, you have cold socks and feet!” Worst of all, when you manage to get down to floor level in a big shop and you make a break for freedom while the Mummy is distracted, he will shriek in distress, shout “Mama, A is running away!” and then run after you full pelt and trap you in a bear hug until the Mummy captures you again.

All in all, though, Life Game is so much better with the Brother in it. Whenever you see him, you get a massive boost to your happiness bar, which is only increased by waving at him and giving him a hug.

Finally, I will leave you with a little montage of great Brother moments:

* When a pint-sized NPC came up to investigate me, he jumped in front of me protectively and told him I was his sister.
* I love holding his hand when we go for walks. Holding his hand makes me feel happy.
* When I come to pick him up from The School, he shows me off to his teachers and his friends.
* The first night we shared a bedroom, I managed to get the Mummy and the Daddy to take me out of bed in the night for extra cuddles, and I had to spend the rest of the night trapped in the travel cot. In the morning, the Brother’s sad voice could be heard coming from our room saying: “Where is A? I want my little sister back.”

brother and sister

 

There is still time to vote for my blog in the MAD Blog Awards! So far I have been nominated in the categories Best Writer, Most Entertaining, Family Fun and Blog of the Year (but that was probably just my mother). Click here to vote, you have until a minute to midnight on the 14th of March.

Me and my girl

Two years I had alone with the Toddler. Two years in which I watched his every move, waited on him with snacks and drinks, read him stories, sat by his bedside in the night stroking his hair.

The Baby has had a three hour train journey – and now a weekend.

baby having breakfast

All you can eat breakfast: definitely her favourite meal of the day.

It was lovely to be able to spend so much time alone with her these past few days. Together we attended BritMums Live, a blogging conference, bringing together hundreds of parents-who-blog for socialising, attending workshops, celebrating achievements and meeting companies that want to connect with bloggers. From the Baby’s point of view, we went to a large building crammed with (mainly) women eager to admire her, cuddle her and give her lots and lots of attention. She was loving it. During the awards ceremony in the evening I walked around with her on my arm, and after the first few people we encountered stopped me to chat to my daughter, the Baby started pre-emptively reaching out a chubby hand to everyone we passed, smiling winningly. She just loves people.

What struck me though, was that it didn’t feel unusual or strange to be alone with her so much. I treasured the time, but as I thought about it I realised that there are plenty of times in the day when it is just me and her:

* between 5.30 and 7am, when we snuggle up together before the Toddler wakes up;

* on Tuesday morning when the Toddler is in the creche for a few hours. I have tried leaving her there too, but she screams the place down. She wants to be with me and the other Mummies having tea and biscuits and sharing thoughts about parenting;

* in the early afternoon, when well-trained Toddler sleeps like the dead for hours, she usually wakes up early from what I keep hoping will one day become a two hour nap. We spend the time watching age inappropriate television mostly;

* At bedtime, when I try to feed her quietly in her room as the Toddler watches his regulation pre-sleep episode of Numberjacks. This one doesn’t always work out. About half the time the quiet feed in a dark room is accompanied by wild jumping around or ear-splitting screaming from my son;

* In the middle of the night. Not my favourite one-to-one time but hey.

So even though the Baby is my second child, we do get quite a few moments to ourselves. Probably more than I get alone with my son.

My second thought, as I watched her little face beam at all the lovely bloggers cooing over her, was that she doesn’t seem all that desperate to be alone with me. She wants me around. That much was clear when her joy turned to despair as soon as I disappeared out of sight for ten minutes, when suddenly the company of my lovely new, now Real Life friends was not good enough anymore. But she seems to love having plenty of people around. It is, of course, the only thing she has ever known. Her brother has always been there, and she can’t imagine life without him. She clearly adores him – her face was a picture when they were reunited after our weekend away.

Perhaps this guilt we feel, sometimes, towards our second or subsequent children is unnecessary. They don’t know what they’re missing – they have no concept of what these years of time alone with Mummy and Daddy might have been like for the first child. And they have something of great value: built-in friends for life, who look out for them and dote on them, watching their every move, bringing them drinks and snacks and, occasionally, lying beside them in the dark to make the night less lonely.

Golden days

Who knows what may come in the future, but right now, brother and sister adore each other. Ever since the Baby started sitting up and especially since she has been joining in with mealtimes in the high chair, the Toddler has been seeing her less as a nuisance and more as a potential play mate. He recognises that she is a little person with preferences and even sees a need to speak on her behalf. One day she was crying in the high chair, so I offered her a bit more porridge.

“Maybe not.” the Toddler sniffed.

I gave her some banana.

“Maybe not,” the Toddler said again. “Baby not like-a banana.”

He was right, as it turned out. She was finished and did not like-a more food.

Another morning I went to get him from his room. The baby was already awake and downstairs and unhappy that I had left her. We could hear her crying as we came down the stairs.

“Oh no! Baby crying! Coming Baby! Baby pain?”

“No, I think she is just a bit lonely.”

“Oh, lonely… Poor baby.” By this time we had arrived at where she was sitting in the bouncy chair, making her displeasure known. Her brother went up to her and dropped down to (her) eye level. “Want a cuddle?” He gave her a hug. “There, better. And now: Nummajacks!”

Yesterday they were sitting side by side in the double buggy when the Baby had a bit of a coughing fit. Again, her brother’s concern made my heart melt. He leaned over as far as the straps would let him and said: “Oh, Baby, coughing?” Then he tucked her in under her buggy-blanket and blew her a kiss.

My brother at 3 years old, after I had dressed him up as the Easter Bunny. I thought I'd really done a bang-up job on his face paint.

My brother at 3 years old, after I had dressed him up as the Easter Bunny. I thought I’d done a particularly good job on his face paint.

What seems to have endeared the Baby to him no end is that he has discovered that he can make her laugh. His repertoire of gags includes singing the Problem Blob song from Numberjacks, doing wibbly-wobbly legs (or arms or tummy) with her and making toys fly around her head. Her giggles set him off too and soon he is helpless with laughter. Penelope Leach (again) has a brilliant section on how to help your first child through the arrival of a new baby. I won’t quote it all here, but one of her best pieces of advice is to convince the toddler that the baby likes him – because we all like people who like us. Well, very little massaging of the truth was needed here: the Baby’s beaming smile and shrieks of excitement when she sees the Toddler make it pretty plain how wonderful she thinks he is. But the fact that he can make her giggle has truly cemented their friendship – we like people who like us, but we love them if they think we’re funny. In fact, it is official: the Toddler frequently holds her hand and says “friends!”.

Growing up, my brother and I were always very close, and this is what I hoped for in having a second baby: that my children would have that special built-in friendship, that person who has lived through your childhood with you and can share memories of a happy home with you once you have grown up. Someone, basically, who can both thoroughly embarrass you and make you cry on your wedding day. It is too early to tell, of course, but when I catch the Toddler kneeling down by the Baby, gently taking her head in his hands and placing a kiss on her head, I think at least our two have got off to a good start.

Linking up to Magic Moments.

A Change in Perspective

My patience is at zero today and I can’t cope with the Toddler’s exuberance (read: running around knocking things over, pulling all the books off the shelf, littering the floor with tiny sponge letters and a whole deck of cards) and seemingly boundless hunger (6am: Mummy, bread stick? 6.10: Mummy raisins? 6.20: Mummy banana? 7am: Mummy porridge? 7.15: Mummy more porridge? 8am: Mummy apple? and so on until at 10.30 he was consuming another whole bowl of Weetabix and asking for more). Even his affection was getting on my nerves, as he came and snuggled up next to me while I was trying to do work on my laptop, wanting hugs and cuddles. I may also have been on Twitter but that is entirely beside the point, of course.

Anyway, for Prose for Thought today I was planning to post an old poem that I wrote a year or so ago, but instead I found myself writing one about how frustrated I was feeling with my son. My poetry doesn’t usually rhyme, unless it is Sinterklaas, but it felt appropriate in this case.

A change in perspective

I love you, but you wind me up.
Your goals don’t mesh with mine.
When you want midnight cuddles,
I want a glass of wine.

When you want to watch a DVD
I want you to play.
And when you think you’re helping me
you’re getting in my way.

Your games involve a lot of mess
and take up all my time,
and when I want you to stay still
you want to jump and climb.

I have so little patience
and you have so much joy.
Life’s one big experiment
and everything’s a toy.

I keep telling you ‘be careful’,
‘don’t touch’ and ‘don’t go there’,
but isn’t it much better
to try things and go everywhere?

Better to get down on my knees
and see life through your eyes.
I may be a bit more sensible
but you are far more wise.

(c) Judith Kingston , 2013

As I was writing this, my son started playing and interacting with his baby sister, making her laugh, playing games with her, trying to attract her attention and amuse her. This is a new development. My poem is done and he is still playing with her.

I’m linking this with Prose for Thought.

Prose for Thought

 

Game for a two year old and a five month old baby

Regular readers may have noticed I have started to post regularly on Mondays and Thursdays. I am adding this bonus post because I had to share this lovely moment:

The Toddler announced it was “picpic time”. I sat down next to him. He ceremoniously held his shopping basket with groceries on his lap.

“What are we going to eat?” I ask. “Can I have a green cabbage?”

Yes, yes, I know, not traditional picnic fare, but I panicked, okay?

“Plates, Mummy!” the Toddler said. I went to the kitchen and got three paper plates. “One for you, one for me and one for the Baby,” I said.

I got the Baby and sat her on my lap. She was first offered a plastic lemon, but it rolled onto the floor.

Then, the Toddler invented the Best Game Ever. He took his paper plate and started to go: “Flap flap flap!” I followed suit with my own. “Birds!” he laughed. The birds swooped and flew and bumped into each other with big theatrical bumps.

From my lap, I suddenly heard a new sound. It was giggling. I looked down to find that the Baby was watching the paper-plate-birds, enthralled, beaming – and laughing.

Magic.

“Look, the Baby is laughing! She likes your game!” I excitedly told the Toddler. “Let’s give her a plate and see if she wants to join in.” I held the third paper plate near her, and she dutifully grabbed it.

The Toddler snatched it back out of her hand and told me sternly: “Very little, Mummy.”

And that was the end of that.

Epilogue:

It occurred to me the next day that we could make an actual bird out of the plate.

paper plate bird2paper plate bird1
Made in a minute, yay!

Baby S

Our actual baby’s name starts with A. Just in case the post title confused you. Before she arrived, we had started a little game with our Toddler at bath time, where we wrapped him in his little towel afterwards, scooped him up in our arms and carried him to his room saying: “Aaaa, Baby S”. Why? Well, we had read somewhere that although first children like being “big” and helping out with the baby, they have just as much of a desire to still be little and be your baby. So we thought we’d start early and give him these occasional opportunities to be babied.

He liked it back then, but just recently it has become a Very Good Game. I think it is because he knows a bit more about babies now, and so he can properly join in – with mixed consequences for his parents.

He steps out of the shower eagerly, heading straight for the hooded towel, and announces “Baby S!” We wrap him up and lie him down on the bathroom floor to put on his nappy. He starts blowing spit bubbles. “Baby S spugen melk!” [Baby S spit up milk!]. Then he dabs away the spit with a corner of the towel. “Goo goo gaga,” he adds joyfully. I bundle him up in my arms and tell him it is bedtime for Baby S and to say night night to Daddy.

“Baby S huilen!” he announces, pulling his face into a grimace. Then he starts doing a thin, wailing, fake cry.

We laughed the first time, because it was quite cute. But not anymore. Baby S now does crying everytime something is not to his liking, night or day. Nappy needs changing? Baby S huilen! Not allowed to watch TV? Baby S huilen! Toy doesn’t work? Baby S huilen!

“Noooo,” I say, “I think Baby S doesn’t want to cry. I think he’s a very happy baby. Baby S laughing!”

It hasn’t worked yet. Let’s just hope the novelty will wear off soon.

Baby huilen – about siblings

Before the baby was born I was really quite worried about how the Toddler would take the arrival of a little sister. I had read all sorts of horror stories, including toddlers hurting the new baby, taking developmental steps backwards and even rejecting their mother in favour of Daddy as a protest. I tried to do anything and everything I could to reassure him he was loved and not to cause him to attach any negative associations to the baby unnecessarily.

This is what we did:
* We rehearsed the various scenarios for when I went into labour with the various babysitters, to make sure he felt happy with them and that his stay with them was not something new and scary, then followed by a baby sister.
* If I was unable to do something he wanted me to do (like play horsey or pick him up) while heavily pregnant, I gave a reason that was not ‘because of the baby’ – like ‘because it hurts mummy’s back’.
* The baby got him a present.
* We tried to make sure we gave him lots and lots of cuddles and attention in between looking after the baby. We also assured him as often as possible of how much we love him.

So far, he is a very kind and considerate older brother. About half the time, the baby makes it into his roll call of people-in-the-car or people-at-the-table – “Mummy! Daddy! S! A!” – and he gets very excited when she sneezes or hiccups. He is especially pleased that she is awake a bit more these days and does something that looks like playing. This morning I put her in her bouncy chair and left the room for a moment to get the Toddler’s juice cup, only to find on my return that the Toddler had helpfully moved the arch attached to the chair up so she could see and attached dangly toys to it for her to play with. Sadly, the Baby is not yet able to properly appreciate his efforts by swiping at them, but wll done to him for trying.

My favourite, heart melting moment was a few weeks back at Gran’s house. I had propped the baby up with the feeding cushion so she could have a look around. The Toddler came over to us and seemed very happy to find her there. He crouched down and reached out to her with both arms, saying: “Mummy, baby pakken? [pick up baby?] Baby hug?”

Of course, it is not always this harmonious between the two of them. Of late, the Toddler has started to notice the draw backs of having the Baby around all the time. In the beginning, he would say: “Oh no! Baby huilen! [baby cry] Mama, baby pakken! [Mummy, pick up baby!” I was moved that he was so concerned about her distress that he would come and fetch me to help her straight away. He would also go over and pull away all her covers, to facilitate me picking her up. Or he would bring her a toy car to cheer her up, and if that didn’t help, he would toddle off to get a different toy car, as clearly it must have been the wrong car.

Now, however, his exclamations of “Oh dear, baby huilen” seem a little more anxious on his own behalf. I think there is a tinge of ‘It is annoying me Mummy make it stop.’ Or even: ‘this means you will need to give her attention instead of me and I am not pleased.’  Once, the Toddler had banged his head and was wailing and stretching his arms out to me for a hug. Unfortunately, I was feeding the baby at the time. This caused more distress and I finally distinguished between sobs: “No, not baby. Baby liggen. [Baby lie down].”

Very occasionally, if the Baby’s crying happens at just the wrong point of his night, or if he is sleeping fitfully anyway for other reasons, she wakes him up. He joins her with crying of his own. When we go in to him we find him lying in bed, awake but still sleep-drunk. In a small sad voice he says: “Baby huilen.”