“No, I already said we’re playing house. You sit there and you sit there. Now we’re all going to eat dinner together at the table or else I’m moving out and this time I’m taking the kids with me.”
“I can’t eat dinner, I’m an assassin!”
“And I’m a zombie assassin! With a laser gun!”
“Then I’m going to be a zombie ninja, with a bazooka!”
“While you guys are doing assassin stuff, us girls are going to pretend like we’re at the spa. I’m getting my toes done.”
“Why don’t we play freeze tag… PEW PEW PEW! You’re all frozen, I win.”
“I don’t want to do that. Let’s go draw sidewalk art with chalk.”
“No no no, we’re still playing house, and now you’re all grounded. If you don’t eat your chicken I am going to choke every one of you in your sleep.”
It’s fun to watch the neighborhood kids play in the cul de sac. It reminds me of being a kid, running around a trailer park, shooting pretend lasers out of my Care Bear’s belly (because we weren’t allowed to play with guns). Alas, my coolness peaked early.
About 70% of their time is spent negotiating the terms of the next game or thing to play, 10% of the time is doing it, and 20% of the time is spent in the variations that spawn out of the agreed-to game – the sort of carefree chaos that comes with being a kid.
The kids in my neighborhood are great. There is one kid who lives a block over, who every time he sees me roll by, yells “I love your car!” I love my car, too, which is why I make a very conscious effort to wave at each kid when I drive through the street that they’ve adopted as their baseball field. Just in case they become the same destructive type of kids that I associated with when I was 12 years old, I don’t want them to target my sweet ride.
My daughter Jules is six now, so I was curious how she’d hold up with the older kids (mostly 3rd- 5th grade) in these Neighborhood Games. After an hour of negotiations on what and how to play, they agreed to play Hide and Seek. My garage was open, so it became a common hiding place, and I enjoyed the cloudy and misty October evening dodging the kids begging for clues to each other’s whereabouts.
When the majority of the kids found each other after the first round, they congregated near my lawn chair wondering where Jules went. My internal Daddy-radar said she was nearby, probably behind me, and I considered the possibility that she violated Hide and Seek rules by hiding inside our house. After some milling about by the older kids, Jules suddenly burst forth from the garage from under a box, right next to me, fist-pumping the air and shouted “Oh my God I won!”