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A Game That Is Impossible To Lose

father and son holding handsMy son turns three this month. Nothing has ever made me more aware of how precious time is, and how quickly it goes. There is a sign in his room that says “Little boys should never be put to bed early. They always wake up a day older.” It gets more true every day, but we still don’t let him choose when he goes to bed.

I try to spend as much time on the floor with him as I can. Playing, wrestling, and best of all, inventing games and seeing where his mind leads him.

The current favorite is “Silly Basket.”  We get a blue plastic basket and fill it with scraps of paper. Each paper has an activity on it:

  • Tickle mommy
  • Stand on one foot
  • Play the piano with your nose
  • Spin
  • Dance

He performs every action with joy and an utter lack of self-consciousness that I envy at times.

He lives in the moment in a way that I do not. This is never more apparent than when we’re playing Silly Basket. By this point we have over 50 pieces of paper in there, but he knows them all. So he changes them.

Yesterday he drew a piece that says “Eat a lollipop.” I took it out of his hand and said “No, it says do a somersault.”

He took the piece of paper back and said, “I need a dollar.”

“Do a somersault.”

He shook the paper at me. “I have to go to Weight Watchers.” He was looking at one of our cookbooks on the shelf.

This went on for a while. He surprised me every time. It’s been a while since I laughed so hard.

Every time we get out the basket, I know what is in it, and so does he. But he changes it every chance he gets, based on what he feels, based on what is on his mind, and based on how he thinks we will react.

There is an idea that a game without stakes is not worth playing. I agree in most instances. Not in this one, although I suppose the case could be made that a lot rides on whether we’re willing to get down on the floor with children and encourage their imaginations.

It is a game that is impossible to lose, unless one day the Silly Basket tells him to fill the microwave with nickels.

Josh

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Frankie Faires February 1, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Of course that game has stakes.
    What would you lose if you didn’t play it?

    • Josh Hanagarne February 1, 2011, 12:36 pm

      Not playing at all is a different game than Silly Basket. Aren’t all of these metaphors just blowing your mind!!!!!

  • Candace February 1, 2011, 2:45 pm

    I loved this! I am constantly amazed by the things my boys come up with. I like to sit and talk to them and find out what they are thinking. Another favorite is listening to them play together. I know they won’t always like each other this way, but right now it is just the best.