Sometimes when I get home from work, and I don’t have much time to play with the kids, I have to improvise on playtime. Let’s say I have 20 minutes until I have to leave for derby practice… I could divide that time into two 10 minute periods and let each kid pick something to do. Ben might want to try to build an elaborate train track in that time, and Jake is likely to say that he’d like to play mini shin hockey in his room with me. Neither of those two activities tend to be rewarding in a 10 minute spot. Of course, I could never convince both children to do the same activity at the same time, regardless of what it is. So, I usually chose just to rough house with both of them for the full 20 minutes.
The key to a successful playtime is usually somewhere within my initial move. I usually try to create a clever diversion, and then employ some sort of stealth tripping move while one or the other kiddo is off guard. It might play out something like this:
“Benjamin, you haven’t given me a single kiss today! I need a kiss right here!” (And then I point to a silly place on my forehead or on my ear.) Ben will look at me confused and try to kiss my forehead, which I will then begin to move around so he can’t quite kiss it…..
“Ben! I need a kiss on my forehead, right HERE!” and show him yet again where his mark is. Just as he’s concentrating on zeroing in, I hold a bit more still, allowing him to really think he’s going to get the mark. Just as his lips near my wrinkles in training, I sneak my arm out and wrap it around his waist, while I jet my head to the side and start tickling his neck with my other hand.
Once he’s done giggling, this will start an all out war. If either boy sees the other one being tickled, they will, in most cases rush to their aid. This works to my advantage. Ben is still small enough that I can pick him up and throw him onto the couch. IF I throw him on his belly sort of sideways (gently, mind you) then he will be subdued long enough for me to throw my hands into a ninja stance and distract Jake with moving them. Imagine any scene from a kung fu movie, and you’ll have a vague idea of how I’m playing.
Jake and I exchange jabs until he eventually gets close enough to wrestle me down, and then I will usually start using my surroundings as weapons. I particularly love to grab pillows, which I usually start bashing into him. After I’ve hit him enough times to stun him, I usually give a weak sign and allow Jake to steal the pillow from me. As he winds up to hit me with it, I will duck, tackle him and put him in my trademark hold, the “Ninja Sit and Tickle.” (Imagine this in my very best dubbed over sounding Chinese accent.) This move involves me sitting on the child, holding his arms down with my knees and tickling him relentlessly, or until he says I’m the best mom ever. (Or any other random thing I command he says.)
Usually Ben will join in the action and I will have to deal with both of them, giving Jake a reprieve to catch his breathe and exciting Benjamin all the more. This type of play can usually continue for hours, or until I have to go to work, or until I accidentally tickle either of the boys too hard. But truth be told, I love to rough house with the boys. It’s a nice mix of being creative and fun, physical and cuddly, somehow. I just need to start planning a little ahead, because I’m pretty sure that now that they are learning to combine forces, I’ll soon be outnumbered. And I do so hate to be tickled…..