A Calvin & Hobbes™ Kind of Day

So a simple day turned into a three-ring circus. It’s almost as if Calvin of “Calvin & Hobbes™” fame used his wonderful box, the “Duplicator,” to clone himself multiple times and set the results here.

The dynamics of play change when you go from one to three young people who have established their personal likes and dislikes of play. The need to step in and “be an adult” becomes a bit tiresome…for both the kids and the “adult” yet there are large portions where play is cooperative (and/or competitive) and the unfolding results are interesting to watch.

So unlike previous posts, this one will be more “story-like” than evaluative. So here we go!

The Lake

Promising a cutie pie of a granddaughter, Analise, we would go fishing turned rapidly into an adventure for her and her two cousins, Isaiah and Jeremiah, who joined us for the day. Assembling the gkids was an easy task but getting the gear, bug spray, water, car seats, and fixing the fishing lines was a bit more onerous job primarily because like all who are eager to get started, the gkids wanted to go…now. So we (yes, G’mama became the co-pilot and “rememberer” of essentials like bug spray, snacks, and water) managed to get everything and everyone strapped into the car and off we went.

Thankfully, the lake (Village Point Lake in Clemmons NC) was close by. Unloading was easier and soon the gkids were by the water’s edge looking at the ducks and seeking out fish by the banks of the lake. Grabbing the gear and fishing rods we started down the paved path. I sent Isaiah on ahead to see if anyone was using the section of the lake where we have had previous fishing luck. He was only too happy to be the trailblazer and soon reported that no one was there.

For those who fish for a hobby, fishing with gkids (and kids?) is an experience that may grow hair on your chest, show you how patience works, and establish once and for all in your mind the blessings of normal, quiet, reflective, boring solo or “adult” fishing. So to shorten this a bit, let’s just say that repetitions of “watch your rod,” “be careful casting,” “just hold the fish like this,” “watch you bobber,” and other dubiously helpful phrases could easily be put on a soundtrack loop and just played over and over and over and…

BUT Isaiah, the Fish Whisperer, caught the first fish on his first cast. Then he caught another one. Bites on Analise’s and Jeremiah’s lines stirred up their excitement but only Jeremiah caught a fish at our first stop. In due time we packed up everything and went to try our luck fishing from the dock.

From the dock, Analise caught her first fish and changed the beginnings of “let’s go” each one expressed to “can we fish some more?” So we let them fish with only one quick trip to a local fast food place for a restroom stop (no restrooms on the lake other than the woods). All told, Isaiah caught between 4-6 fish and Jeremiah and Analise each caught one. Not bad for a hot and humid fishing adventure.

…but wait! There’s more!

The House

Traversing from the lake to the house and the craziness starts (note to self: have a play plan in place ahead of time). Lunch was accompanied by some TV show watching and the discovery, yet again, that each gkid has their own type of show they like and dislike. Thankfully, one show was found that all found to be fun.

So what else did they do?

Card and board games were discussed but a consensus was never reached.

So on to Play-doh™ time. Analise and Isaiah opened their own restaurant with fruit roll-ups, pizzas, chocolate éclairs, taco pizzas, and other goodies crafted based on the desires of their customers. Jeremiah took a little bit of time to do one dinosaur origami fold then joined in the doh fun. Some Play-doh™ managed to find its way to the floor during the preparation of the “food” but they played for a long time (kid time-wise) and became very creative with the doh colors.

Afterwards they went outside to play with tossing and kicking a beachball around. With the heat from the morning’s fishing outing and the rising temperature of the day, it was too hot to be outside for any length of time and so this activity only lasted a few minutes before they were back inside trying to figure out what next to do.

They tried to their hands at bowling but disagreements on the rules made Pa step in for a game  “time-out” and “we’re done with bowling” for today. After a short lecture…discussion…er…passing on of advice, the gkids were off again in an attempt to find something all three could do together. And it’s times like this where they work together, listening to what each wants to do that gives one pause from thoughts of reversing the Calvin Duplicator machine.

Who thought of it, I do not know, but soon the “Critter” box was on the bed and the gkids began pulling out dogs, dinosaurs, cars, and other “critters” from our miscellaneous collection. And though short-lived, this soon became another time of imagination and creativity of all three (similar to Play-doh time). Maybe we need those times of conflict and ignoring of rules to really work together? It seemed where there were rules (whether official or “known” by one gkid), there appeared to be no way.  Play became almost confrontational (“Yes but…”) and where situations presented themselves where there were no rules and imagination can run rampant (“Yes and…”), play was a time where ideas and characters came to life. (second note to self: how many times did this happen in work and life? Did rules create artificial barriers to cooperative “Yes and” moments?)

After Critter time, they settled on sticker and coloring time. Some conflict came up but in one case, it was handled graciously (Thank you, Jeremiah!) and in the other case, the rule of keeping coloring pages in the coloring book was broken by snipping it out and letting more than one color from the same book.

It was soon time to go. Once the gkids had been delivered, it became really quiet…in a good, exhausting kind of way. So will we turn on the “Duplicator” again?

Yes.

We may take more time in planning out adventures and activities and choose to do more “quiet” breaks in-between activities so everyone can catch their breath (and sanity) but the moments where they got together to become creative and build stories are worth it. As an example, seeing the excitement generated when a fish is on the line is priceless even when the chaos of baiting, de-snagging, and “how to fish” instructions make the time a bit chaotic.

Yes. The Duplicator will be turned on again for we also realize these moments are fleeting and will soon change to times when they are off on their own, discovering the world for themselves and sharing their moments with others.

Now, if Mr. Peabody’s ™ WABAC (pronounced Wayback) machine just worked we could re-capture some of those moments…

Side notes:

Here is the list of abortive play attempted during the day: games, TV time until one show was found that all liked, bowling, corn hole, and beach ball play outside. We avoided electronic games today.

Bonus

Here are some great games to engage kids of any age:

  • Bonkers– a board game where the rules change every time you play
  • Deer in the Headlights– card and dice game
  • Cover You’re A$$sets – build and steal assets card game