It’s not a place for moms.
No offense. You just wouldn’t understand, the kids and I. Dad, and his cubs. While we’re in that place, you can catch up on Pinterest, or do some crafts. Just ignore the pillows flying and, oh yeah, the noise.
It’ll sound like a zoo meets a train station meets an Iron Maiden concert, but it’s all smoke. No mirrors.
Welcome to the land of Daddy Games: Low on decorum, high on disruption, but never short on love and bonding, between a dad and his potato-sack-sized kids. The squeals, fatherly back pain and occasional broken glassware attest to this.
These games, dads, will go down in history. Family history. Playing elephant. Tutoring a new generation of all-star wrestlers. Sharing the finer points of guerrilla warfare with couch pillows. The kids will remember long after our knees give out.
Dad games have elevated
Our grandfathers competed with so little. Seriously. Back in the day, just bouncing a kid on your knee qualified as a rocking good time. Now? Dad’s challengers include Nintendo DS and Webkinz and the Disney Channel, on high-def.
Dad of 2012? You must BRING IT.
It can’t be forced. So much happens naturally. Free play gives birth to the best games we invent. A tickling index finger develops a Mexican accent and assumes the name Braulio. He longs to return to Tickle Central, to rejoin his friends.
Tickle Central lies squarely in that horribly ticklish zone directly between a kid’s collarbones. (Braulio, AKA Uno, became adored and reviled by my girls, for his persistence. Well, reviled, mostly. He makes Alex Rodriguez look like Drew Brees.)
What did you and your pop do?
Dads, what do you play with the kids? Moms, what do you hear from the next room when it’s just papa and the kidlets? Uno knew all three girls. The Brothers, a trio of thuggy boys too dumb to capture her, were originally Marie’s foil.
Grace begat the Kissasaurus, a lispy, loving dinosaur who sounds like Mike Tyson and gives kisses like there’s no tomorrow.
Necessity creates some of these characters. Dr. Sheeka-laka-WOO-hoo answered the call to help Elise keep her pearly whites brushed every night. His uncommon name – stress on the “WOO!” –discovered shockingly so much irrelevant matter in Elise’s mouth.
Logs. Racoons. Bumble bees.
He found tons of stuff that didn’t belong in there, all while ensuring toothbrush got all teeth between the giggles.
The Crocodile Hunter had just tracked down the last known living Marieasaurs and Graceasaurs and Elisasaurs, in remote caves that resembled dad’s closet, protecting their young. These games prove lots to me too.
That even when the kids realize I’m not the tallest dude on earth, or the strongest, or that I will always get everything on their birthday wish list, we’ll still have this.
If a dad takes the time to play, no matter how old his babies get, they’ll remember that when they see a bear in the zoo.
The might even miss their favorite affectionate dinosaur.
Or even the best fake dentist they’ve ever visited.
And hopefully, they’ll let themselves play. No matter how old they get.