Sometimes a game is more than a game, and sometimes it’s just weird
There’s this game my two sons love to play every time they get out of the shower or bath. And, to be clear, I am using “game” in the loosest most 3- and 5-year-old sense of the word. Parental torture activity is another term I could use. I’m not sure when or how it started exactly, but as is often the case with kids, it quickly became an indispensable ritual.
Here’s the blueprint. Kid steps out of the bath, dripping wet of course, and ducks down into a ball on the bath mat. Kid then requests that I cover him with a towel.
“Look at this rock,” wet kid covered in towel on the bath mat calls out.
When this game first started, I didn’t know how to respond to this statement. I try to avoid replying to my kids and everyone else because it usually just leads to problems. But, in this case, silence didn’t work, so I moved onto “Okay.” That didn’t work either.
“You’re supposed to say, ‘What is this rock doing here?’” towel kid rock informs me helpfully.
“What is this rock doing here?” I ask. After many, many tries at this I’m pretty much a pro now (I’ve put in my 10,000 hours for sure), so we usually skip the “Okay” part.
Again, early on I had no idea where to take it from here. I mean, this could be the end, right? Kid pops out and says “Ha! It’s not a rock!” But no, that’s not how it goes at all. It’s a little bit ridiculous that you thought that’s how it could go. What were you thinking?
“You say, ‘I’m going to get this rock out of here.’ Then, you pick me up and try to throw me outside.’”
“Outside the bathroom?” I said the first time around, asking another dumb question.
“No. Out the door to the garage.”
Of course. That makes a lot more sense when you think about it.
Next, I reach over to gather up the wet kid towel rock while muttering, “Let me get this rock out of here.”
I’m actually good at this part, I think. Although wrangling the 5-year-old rock is a little challenging, because he’s tall and his appendages tend to wriggle free and flop around if I don’t corral them properly. Such a break in form is a big no-no, of course, and requires a restart of the entire dreadful routine.
When we get close to the garage, I start to count to three and rock the rock back and forth in preparation for a spectacular toss out the door. You’ll never guess what happens next. Maybe you will.
The rock starts to giggle.
And I’m like, “Oh, damn! Shit just got real! This isn’t a rock!”
I don’t say it like that, obviously, but we’re all adults here and that’s how I envision my character’s emotional reaction to the situation. So, I channel that energy, that level of astonishment. I morph into character like Daniel Day Lewis before delivering my real line.
“Wait, this isn’t a rock, it’s just [insert child’s name].”
Then, I pull the towel back from kid rock towel’s head, we all have a good laugh, and everyone gets their pajamas on and goes to bed.
What really happens is we repeat the scene about twenty-six times. Thirteen times for each child. And after that’s over and I’m good and dead inside, we collapse in a heap on the bed or floor or wherever and just sleep like a pack of feral dogs.
I’m not really sure what it is about kids and their mundane rituals. How do they find such repetitive tasks so endlessly entertaining? (Asks the person who checks Facebook fifty times a day for notifications.) Whatever it is, though, I know I’ll probably miss these games when they’re finally over. It will be weird to not play The Rock anymore.
Okay, fine. Playing it is a little weird too, isn’t it? But, you know what I mean.