Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mail Call

For the most part, it's a challenge getting my kids to truly play.  If those born around my generation thought that we were the products of a technological age, they simply need to look at today's toddlers, iPhones/iPods/iPads in hand, to understand that board games are out and video games are in.

Because of this, Cael and Graham aren't especially interested in using their imaginations.  Sure, they can erect a blanket fort with the best of 'em, but initiating pretend play is often a lost cause.  That doesn't stop me from trying, of course, because if my boys have taught me anything, it is that a person can easily be worn down if the questions are repetitive enough and one's voice is sufficiently whiny. 

"Cael, why don't you guys build a city with blocks?"

"No, Mom.  I don't want to."

"You could pretend to be cowboys again." 

"I don't think so."

"What about using your kitchen toys to make me a meal-- like a real chef!"

"Not gonna happen, Mommy."

Okay, so I may not have the influence I like to think I have.  But I do have one trick up my sleeve that seems to work every time.

"Fine.  Do you boys want to read your mail?"

"Yea!  Graham, let's get our mail!"

I remember vividly walking up to the post office with my mom, who would quickly sort the "real" mail from the "junk" mail and hand me a stack of ads that she assured me were addressed to me.  And even though the Wii and the PlayStation are nearly irresistible, my boys would agree that a glossy advertisement for Viagra beats MarioKart any day.

But the mail had been picked up.

I'd already made the promise, though, so I hunted around the house until I found a stack of Better Homes & Gardens magazines I'd been saving and offered the oldest one up to the boys, knowing full well that they'd probably shred it.  If it bought me even half an hour of unplugged play-time, it was worth sacrificing the sage advice of potted plant tutorials and down-home chili recipes.

Within minutes I heard giggles, immediately followed by the ripping of paper.  The same cycle was repeated.  Voices shouted, "Delivery for you, Sir!" and "Bills, bills, bills.  Nothing but bills!"  Eventually, little feet bounded up the stairs and I saw that each of them had just one paper, torn clean from the magazine.

"What do you have there, Bubba?"

"It's a silly kitty!"

Graham proudly displayed the cat litter ad he'd chosen as his "mail" for the day.

"Oh, that is a silly cat.  Cael, what do you have?"

Silently, he gazed at his paper.  The "Ten Minute Workout" guide showed three steps to better health with a scantily-clad woman demonstrating the exercises. 

"You liked this one?"

"She's not wearing a shirt, Mommy!"

"Well, she's wearing workout clothes.  Maybe you should find a different piece of mail."

"But her shorts are SO short." 

On to plan B.

"Who wants to play MarioKart?"


  1. My girls do imaginative play pretty well, but only if I turn the tv off and then proceed to completely ignore them LOL. Soon it's like they've become so bored they are forced to use their imagination...but then I always start to feel guilty when I suddenly see them having fun playing with an old bucket and broken pair of sunglasses--poor neglected children on the street playing with garbage ;-) It would never cross their mind to play with the one billion toys I've purchased for them!

    1. That's funny! Mine are the same way- the toys don't seem to hold any allure, and yet I keep buying them. What's my problem? I think they'd have just as much fun with some tape, string and a piece of paper!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.