Silly Little Loving Games

"I would like to see another installment giving ideas on how to play with children -- or perhaps how not to play with them." Larry Magid

Glad you asked.

I have to admit that when it comes to parent-child interaction, I, too, have a strong predeliction for those activities that involve a lot of relatively sedentary cuddling. I just plain revel in the intimacy.

Car Wash

Car Wash, for example, is a game I actually learned from Rose Farrington, in the earliest days of the New Games Foundation. It involves one person in being the car, and everyone else in being a fully automatic car washing machine. As a car, you get to be any kind of rolling or crawling vehicle you want, as long or as dirty as you need to be, traveling through the car wash machine as rapidly, or slowly, as you deem advisable. As a machine part, you get to influence what it will be like when it's your turn to be a car. Your loving touch gets transmitted through the generations, and you, in turn, are touched, lovingly, by the intergenerational love machine. Wax and polish, and be ye waxed and polished. Tickle, and so be ye tickled. Basically, every one should have at least one turn, but as the game continues, it becomes ever more apparent that we each, from time to time, require a few extra trips through the wash.

Air Theatre

So you play Car Wash, and you laugh, and you get tired, and you want to get sedentary.

Well, there's this thing I call Air Theatre. You lie on your backs, with your heads together like spokes on a wheel. And you all put your hands straight up, so you can see everybody's hands, and you get this instant Air Stage effect. It's like a stage up there, where our disembodied hands can carry on conversations, speaking in our disembodied voices. We're on our backs. Spokes in a wheel, hands in the air. We let our fingers do the talking. It's kinda like shadow puppetry without the shadows. Hand shaking. Hand slapping. Hand music. Hand dancing. And whenever we need to thicken the plot, in come the Silly Foot Beings, the dialog with whom invariably leading to a semi-yogic collectively callisthenic performance of Whole Body Theatre.

And then it's time for Food Theatre.

Desert Roulette

One of my favorite Food Theatre Games was taught to me by my wonderful and far-too-long gone friend Burton Naiditch. He called it: Desert Roulette. This is just one version: You're in a restaurant. And you order one more desert than there are people. Place the deserts in the center of the table. Simultaneously, reach for the desert of your choice. Take more or less a bite, and return the desert to its tablecentric position. Play repeatedly. The first desert to be eaten is the winner. And so is everyone else.

For more variety, add more desserts. Or, make it the rule that you can't move a plate, but rather must fork the dessert into your mouth, even if the dessert is located across the table. Or, you might each try to select the dessert that you think your partner wants, take a forkful, and then try to feed each other simultaneously. To increase the challenge, you might add reservoirs of dessert condiments (bowls of whip cream, crushed nuts, non-fat fudge), making dessert-forking a two-stage operation. Or forget the fork and use your fingers to feed each other.