The Games Children Play

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Child playing draughts or checkers board game outdoorSo one might ask what it’s like for a bipolar alcoholic to be involved with rearing children. Well, Breanne, my eldest daughter, only tried to send me to prison once. I often wonder if it was intentional. She was only four. It’s hard to gauge the motives of those little buggers when they are that young.

We were living in a triplex in Southern California at the time. Breanne seemed happy enough. She had friends, toys and minimal credit card debt. (Was I a bad person for opening accounts in the names of my minor children?)

Anyway, since she was unwilling to get off her rear and get a job, my daughter spent most her time playing with an assortment of toys we had procured. Actually, toys might be a misnomer. Her favorite things to play with were not toys at all, but an assortment of clothes and old ties she used for dress up and role playing.

Whenever we couldn’t lure her into sitting mindlessly in front of the TV, she’d drag out a plastic bin of her dress up clothes and start acting out a variety of characters. These little creative bursts annoyed me to no end as she would often model her latest ensemble in such a manner as to block my view of important events transpiring on the television. So I devised a little game of my own. When she got into dress up mode, I’d grab some of the ties in the bin and wrap her up securely. She’d spend what seemed like hours extricating herself, and my TV viewing went uninterrupted.

This little ritual went on for some time and I thought nothing of it until one night when I made the mistake of inviting a few couples–couples I didn’t know all that well–over to watch videos.

There we were, popcorn in hand, enjoying our show when out came Breanne with her plastic bin. I was all but ignoring her until Breanne dropped a little verbal bomb in front of the whole group: “Daddy, can we play the ‘Tie Me Up’ game?”

Our guests, the women in particular, stared me down. I tried awkwardly to explain. But the more I talked, the more I babbled, the more their looks said “Child Protective Services.”

Cell phones had yet to invent themselves, so I thought maybe I should cut the cord to our kitchen phone, sequester my guests and force them to sign agreements that they would not turn me in to the authorities. As it turned out, the solution was a bit simpler. My wife made a joke of it, explained the “game” without my guilt-ridden, incoherent babble and thus, at least partially, erased the image that was etched into our guests’ minds.

You’d think l’d be a bit more careful with the games I invent. Perhaps I’d avoid games that could be so inappropriately named. But where’s the fun in that?

Now that my daughters are grown and having children of their own it’s payback time. When we gather I make a point of engaging in one of three family fun classics: A hair pulling game called “Does This Hurt.” The game with no correct answer: “Guess Which Side of Your Head I’m Going to Hit.” And my personal favorite: “Guess That Smell” (the game with only one correct answer.)

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