10 Games to Play During Quarantine

If the shoe fits…

Note: Although these games are geared towards children, with a bit of imagination, they can be played by the most immature of adults.

As a family, we learned a tremendous amount during the quarantine. We learned things like how many different games you can play with Alexa (even she gets cabin fever), how precious a single square of toilet paper can be (count your blessings, count them one by one), and how viruses can only really spread in small businesses but you’re okay in giant, multi-billion dollar department stores. But to pass the time, we also came up with some of our own games. So, here’s a list of 10 games (minus a few because I was going to do a list of 10 to make a nice, even list, but then I started making the list and I was like, 10 is way too many things to think about!) to preoccupy your family in the case of any future lock downs.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoe! – One day, my three-year-old came up to me and said, “Let’s play a game!” She held out one little palm and put her other fist on top saying, “Rock, paper, scissors, shoe! Umm… Daddy, how to make the shoe?” Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, and shoe beats… cockroach?

Will It Hat? – Our one year old son, loves to put things on his Benjamin Button, bald head. Gotta cheese puff? Put it on your head. Will it hat? Gotta dead leaf? Put it on your head. Will it hat? Gotta shoe? A book? A cup full of water? An actual hat? Put ‘em on your head, and see: will it hat? The answer is always: most certainly, yes it will.

Dress Up – I used to think one shirt was enough for one day. But why only wear one outfit when you can change multiple times a day, and do loads of laundry everyday? Baby spit up, toddler nail polish, slime, boogers, the options and opportunities are endless to have a reason to change again. Or you could just not wear anything. It is quarantine after all.

No Mess Finger Paint – The game is that while you had a momentary lapse in sanity, you allowed your toddler to play with paint, and now, while she has fun painting, you spend the entire time just trying to clean and keep paint off of everything in the house.

Sharing is Caring – No matter how many toys you give to each child, even if they’re identical, they only want to play with what the other one has. I just keep telling myself that the screams and tears are watering the little seeds of maturity in their souls so they won’t covet their neighbor’s new deck and jacuzzi.

Sleep Over – The best part about a sleep over is getting to stay up late. Having young children is kinda like that except instead of staying up late to eat junk food or play video games, you stay up late to put one kid to bed just so you can then get the other back in bed who woke up because of a feral cat outside, so that you can then wake up early for the other one who seems to have no concept of a lazy weekend morning.

Hide the Biscuit – The biscuit can be anything. Cereal puffs, green beans, carrots, crackers, cheese, or even biscuits. Where do you hide them? Well, our son hides them in his chair, under his chair, in his pockets, in his diaper, in his armpit, on his head (refer back to Game #2), behind his ears, in his ears, up his nose, under his bum and around the corner, and within black hole-like interdimensional portals that confound the known laws of space and time in which you thought you found and cleaned up all those puffs just for them to reemerge later either fall from the ceiling, be stuck to an elbow, or be stepped on.

Hide ‘n’ Seek – No. Just no. Never play this.

Naturally Gifted

(Like Father, Like Son)

As an incredibly blessed parent, I try not to brag. I don’t want to be one of those parents who vicariously lives through their children, attempting in vain to supplant past failures, and overly boasts of their accomplishments as if they were their own. (Did I use enough ambiguous antecedents in that last sentence? I’m sure you can figure out who the unclear pronouns refer to. I’m not going to spend time rewriting sentences for clarity when that’s not what this is about. Do you realize how much time I could waste just going on and on and on about every little word and sentence. I could take at least some 87 words talking about it. Look, I’m just not going to overthink these blog posts. Okay? Hmm, maybe I should…)

Anyways, as I was saying before being rudely interrupted by the grammar sheriff, as a proud father, I try not to brag. But my son, soon to be one, is gifted at eating. Quite remarkable acutally.

It’s like we didn’t even have to teach him. He just figured it all out with almost no direction. Finger foods? Check. Fruit pouches with little slurp spouts? Check. Sippy cups? Check. Beverages with straws—obviously the decomposable, plant-based, non-marine-life-harrasing kind? Check. He just gets it.

But of course, greatest strength, greatest weakness.

With his prodigious penchant for food consumption also comes a few unsavory habits (see what I did there? “unsavory”). We’re currently trying to wean our kiddo off these shady lifestyle choices:

Eating leftovers.

By leftovers, I mean the food that has fallen off the table and onto the floor. Some people have a dog. We have a baby. He’s like a weird, squishy little vacuum cleaner. One of his favorite after-dinner pastimes is to try and crawl under the table and sample the variety platter of crumbs and collateral. When eating in his highchair, he often eats one, and then throws one down on the floor. I believe this is all part of his master plan to have readily accessible, self-selected hors d’oeuvres for later.

Eating dirt.

It’s not that he necessarily “loves” the taste of dirt and sand, but they’re also not really good deterrents either. The other day when we went to the beach, he tried a generous handful of sand, and then made the face of confused trepidation that you would expect. So, he was good, he wasn’t going to just eat more sand for the kicks and giggles of it. But then it was also the day he first tried potato chips. I personally have a weakness for those crispy, golden, fried spuds of nirvana myself. Perhaps it’s genetic. Either way, if a chip were to fall in the sand, he would do a quick cost-risk-benefit analysis and then determine that the right course of action was to push through and munch on. The chip was totally worth a little garnishment of sand.

Eating garbage.

By garbage, I mean basically anything and everything he can get his grimy, little paws on. Paper of all assortments and colors. Sticks, mulch, and grass. Carpet fibers. His sister’s polyester princess dress frills. Seriously little dude, you gotta stop doing that. Sometimes, opening up his diaper is like unwrapping one of those dollar store mystery bags. We’re really trying to set realistic goals for our children. Keep it simple ya know: try to stop eating random trash. We’re totally setting them up for success!

Eating people.

There’s always that one kid at the preschool who’s a biter. Look, we’ve really made some progress here so don’t worry too, too much. I’m sure by the time our son is ready for school he’s not going to want to gnaw on your offspring. But just in case, I’d send your child with some extra snacks. Think the “Sandlot” movie when the kids need to try and bribe the guard dog with a tasty beef treat. Did something like that happen in that movie? I don’t know; sounds about right.

Scars are there to remind us of the love.

Who’s on First for Toddlers

The following is based on a truish conversation and ongoing inside joke that I have with our 3-year-old daughter:

“Hey, Gracie girl, what’s under there?”

“Under where?”

“Under there?”

“Under wheerree?

“Under theerree.”

“Under there or under here? Under where?”

“Right there. Under there.”

“Oh… underwear!”

“Over there, under there.”

“Underwear is under there.”

“Wait, under where is there? Where is where? Here? Is where here or there?”

“No, here is underwear. Under there.”

“Under where?”

“Under there!”

“Under where?”

“Underwear!”

“Under where, under there! Ohhh… I see. Underwear is over there, under there.”

“What did you say?”

“I don’t know…”

The moral of the story: there are no monsters under your bed, just certain timeless mysteries about when hidden, delicate garments were last laundered.

Kids Are Weird

Hmm… that’s odd…

What is it with kids?

They are so weird. Brain-scratchingly odd. And I have some questions:

What is it with kids and stickers?

We have a book with stickers, and our child loves it. But here is what she’ll do: she will take the stickers off one page, and then… simply put the stickers on the adjacent page. So now, it just looks like the previous sticker page except worse. Is it a metaphor for life? Sometimes, it feels like I’m just moving stickers from one page to another. Like in doing yardwork where I’m just moving dirt from one place to another, or at work where I’m moving paper from one pile to another. But let’s be honest, we all love stickers. They are the best even if we can’t explain why. Part of my reason for having is kids is so that I have a socially acceptable reason to still use and wear stickers.

Why do babies want to eat literally everything?

Seriously, how long should it take a baby to figure out that something is not food? I’m like, dude, haven’t you realized yet that those carpet fibers, that door post, and all those plastic doll faces aren’t food? No, those random specks of dried leaves are not food. No, those shoes are not food. And no, mommy’s earrings and daddy’s beard are not food. And yet, try, try again our child must. I have to give it to him; at least he’s not a quitter. Resilience is important. But so is recognizing when it’s time to let go and move on, like when it’s time to stop gnawing on electrical cables before you turn into a barbecued squirrel on a power line.

Why won’t kids just go to sleep?

The struggle is real. The FOMO is real. How can I possibly be so tired and want to sleep so badly, and yet, these kiddos are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, wide awake, and wired like they’re hooked up to a drip coffee IV? Just go to sleep; please, for the love of all that is good and sane in the world, please just go to sleep. Currently, our nighttime routine is roughly around 12 hours, and it begins at approximately the moment that they wake up in the morning. Woe to you if you do anything to upset the delicate balance of their sleeping schedule causing us to stay up an extra untold number of hours trying to get them to fall asleep. If anyone ever figures this one out please let the universe know.

Something Savory to Save the World

Hmm… what do I want for lunch…?

Ten months—our little guy has hit double digits (well, technically in four days, but I’m writing this now so whatever for technicalities)! Somehow, by the grace of God we’ve kept him breathing. And now that he’s crawling around the house even more, he is that much more like a puppy making little yelps, trying to eat off the floor, and drooling everywhere. He drools. A lot. He leaves a trail of drool everywhere he goes like some kind of abnormally large slimy slug in diapers. He’s a regular old honky tonky wonky donkey jibber jabber jocky slobber wockey.

You know what gets me drooling? Dunkin’ Donuts snackin’ bacon. I wish I could meet the employee that pitched selling a bag of nothing but bacon to the executive team. He or she is a genius and one of my heroes. That is what it means to make a difference in the world, and I want their autograph. Because the egg, cheese, and bread are really just garnishments and excuses to have more bacon on something. A bag of bacon is simply cutting out the middleman. It’s the most prudent and economical thing to do.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that I have a fondness for and close relationship with bacon. I grew up with bacon, and bacon has always been there through the highs and lows of life. Bacon is my spirit animal.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I just imagine that I’m being swaddled within a luxurious bacon weave quilt, nestling between the folds of salty grease and squishy fat, reminiscent of a warm hug and smooch from my great-aunt Bertha. Like licorice meat candy, it takes me to the gentler times of childhood as nostalgia washes over me with its equally crunchy and chewy gristle texture.

Bacon reminds me that there is still beauty and goodness in the world despite all the craziness happening. Bacon transcends culture, borders, and politics. In fact, I’m pretty sure the reason our son drools so much is simply that he is salivating over the future day when he can finally enjoy the simple pleasures of eating sodium-cured strips of pork belly and fatty back cuts.

Soon, my son. Soon.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Now, where did I leave that mother of mine…

There are some mysteries of the cosmos too great to be understood by mere mortal minds. From the deep fathoms of infinite knowledge there exists an immeasurable chasm between the gray matter of our awareness and the dark void of the beyond.

For our newborn, that mystery of all mysteries lies within the realm of one of the oldest, most cherished past times of humanity: peek-a-boo.

Yes, peek-a-boo, I see you! Where’s baby? There he is! Peek-a-boo! Philosophers have engaged in this very discourse of reality and existence for millennia. What is real? What does it mean to be alive and to exist? Questions that haunt our temporal beings. And then at the moment of bleakest thoughts, a bright light shines forth to illuminate our hearts and cast away the cobwebs of the corners of our minds. Peek-a-boo! Oh, there you are Mommy! Where’d you go? You sneaky, sneaky mommy. What is this dark magic? I know where you are; you can’t hide forever… gotcha, peek-a-boo!

What once was lost, now is found. And there are few things that can make our baby boy more giddy than by slyly covering our faces and then popping out like a jack-in-the-box. Like a fox in socks jumping out of a box, or so said Mr. Knox.

The only other thing that can calm and soothe the fears and frustrations of my son is a nice shiny, sharp object. He loves them. Interior fire sprinklers, hanging light fixtures, and freshly polished cutlery. All his favorites and perfectly, suitable educational toys for a baby. My parents gave me my first hatchet when I learned to walk. I was so proud when our newborn held his first Cutco knife.

But his absolute favorite is this little eye-and-hook latch that we use for our sliding barn door. Whenever he gets upset, I just walk him over to that little piece of pointy, protruding metal, and he immediately starts to grin with devious delight. At first, he simply stares and glances, not wanting to be too forward. Then as he warms up, he just barely reaches out towards the lock, careful not to touch yet; only to flirt and tease. He’ll play hard to get and shyly look away with a blush. Finally, after the courtship, the moment of waiting comes to fullness as he starts—not to caress tenderly—but to slap like a whack-a-mole hyped up on pixie dust the dangling lock with squeals of laughter and raptures of pure ecstasy.

Don’t even get me started on ceiling fans. Every baby loves them. I assume, it is because ceiling fans seem to have an awfully close resemblance to the Bible’s depictions of angels. So, babies must be remembering the beautiful sight of singing angels that they knew before knowing while their souls were formed and knitted by the Great Artist outside of time and space. Or something like that. What do I know?

Our daughter says that Pikachu’s last name is Peekaboo. What a missed opportunity to have named our child…

Newton’s Three Laws of Bouncing Bundles of Babies

or The Opposite and Equal Reaction of Everything Hitting the Earth

Bring on the memes…

Our 8-month-old is an adorable rascal and a vandal. Gets it from his mother’s side—obviously. Or maybe he’s just destined to be a ball player because he throws. Everything.

When you hand something to him, he only does one of two things: tries to eat it or throws it on the ground. Usually, it’s both. He will try to eat it (doesn’t matter what “it” is), throw it on the ground, and then stare at its new spatial context with whimsical curiosity and meditative inquisitiveness. You could say, he has a “flooral” fixation.

Sometimes he really gets in the zone. He can throw items quicker than you can hand them to him. Then he will sit in introspective reflection, gazing at the graveyard of plastic and polyester before him, and ponder over the laws of gravity. He’s clearly a prodigy of Newtonian physics. Probably mentally measuring the forces of gravity, drag, buoyancy, and the Magnus effect on the flight and motion of each object as it falls and bounces; the motion of each projectile which typically constitutes a characterization of the coefficient of restitution and ergo can be affected by the nature of the item and the impacted surface along with density, velocity, rotation, temperature, and pressure; of which the aerodynamic properties and physical behaviors of the matter in motion before, during, and after collision with the mass of another body serve as the mechanics of near-parabolic patterns that are engineered; all of this which encompasses what is scientifically known as: “bounciness.” At least, that’s what I assume he’s thinking (I may have used Wikipedia).

Sometimes, we try to tether things in a way that he cannot throw them away. He doesn’t like that. Hand him a toy car. Throws it on the ground. Hand him a cup. Throws it on the ground. Hand him a baby. Throws it on the ground. Hand him an electric waffle maker. Throws it on the ground. Oh wait, are you not supposed to give babies electronics?

If you’re holding him, he tries really hard to rip your ears and eyelids off—clearly so that he can throw them on the ground. He’s got quite the arm. I’m so proud.

Plus, now that he’s crawling all over the place, each day appears to be an adventure as he is on a constant quest to find new artifacts to chew on and throw. He is like Indiana Jones except instead of searching for treasures for a museum he is searching for treasures to smash. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Noah’s Ark wooden animal play set because our son has strewn them all about the house. Indiana Jones the Temple of Doomed toys that have all died the death of a thousand falls. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to find and throw everything in the house. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom the Crystal… never give a crystal to a throwing-obsessed baby unless you want crystal shrapnel in your shins and shards all over the floor. And also, with a diaper instead of a fedora.

The moral of the story: don’t be a litter bug because it’s not cute unless you’re a chubby, chunky baby.

5ish Things Babies Do That Would Be Awkward If Adults Still Did Them

But first, a note about those diapers that I forgot to mention last time…

The other thing that I love about Huggies is that it’s called Huggies. So, it’s like a nice, warm hug for your most delicate regions. Especially during times like these with all the social distancing, it must be nice and comforting to be embraced by an absorbent cotton cloud 24/7.

Now on to other baby matters…

Listen, I know, pretty much everything a baby does is socially unacceptable for adults to do. But here are, I think, five uniquely and especially interesting baby habits that are total taboos for the all-grown-up:

1. Staring wide-eyed and never blinking

One of the most hilarious and creepiest things about babies is that they basically never blink. They just stare at everything like a deer in headlights. They stare at ceiling fans, lights, emptiness, and sometimes even you. When adults stare too much, the police are called. Also, babies will stare and study their own hands like some rare, archaeological treasure. But then hungrily try and devour their own fingers. Speaking of which…

2. Gnawing on… everything

Literally everything. Babies will go to town on whatever they can get their ravenous, unquenchable paws on. If they had teeth, they would gnaw your face right off. Yes, adorable, I know. But can you imagine if an adult came up to you and started chewing on your cheek bone like some kind of deranged zombie?

3. Laying around and waiting for someone else to tend to their every whim

Don’t take this the wrong way, but babies are sort of useless. Now I love babies, but still, they just lounge around like self-entitled royalty, ringing a bell so that their servants can come take care of all their needs and desires. They do this all while grabbing their toes, blowing bubbles, and rocking about in maniacal glee. Adults are typically encouraged to earn their keep; to actually do something and not just drool everywhere. Kid, get a job already. Child labor laws are ruining this country.

4. Randomly shouting, squealing, and squirming

With almost no perceivable provocation, a baby will start kicking and flailing about while screaming in ecstasy at the sound of their own vocal cords. What if when adults got so excited, they just started kicking everything? It’d be chaos. Insurance companies would have to create policies specifically designed for damages done by overly excited kicking fits and other emotional outbursts. The worst is when babies want to kick and roll while getting changed. What if adults did that while using the potty?

5. Falling asleep whenever wherever

Babies often fall asleep while eating like some kind of chronic narcoleptic. It’s like, yes please keep feeding me until I just pass out into a food coma. And then, while asleep, they splay out in starfish fashion with their little arms and hands that can’t quite reach the top of their heads. Restaurants would have an even more serious loitering problem if adults took involuntary naps after eating. Either that or they’d need to start charging a nap-booth rental fee.

Obviously, there are more baby antics that adults should avoid. Let me know of ones you’ve observed.

Double Entendre Diapers

Don’t judge—we all have our regressive states during a crisis!

Now that we’re on our second child, we’ve obviously become baby-rearing champions. We know basically everything there is to know. Just don’t ask us any specific questions.

However, if there’s one thing we have learned over the past few years, it’s this: Huggies “Little Snugglers” are literally the only diaper worth it (by it, I mean your money, your carpets, your laundry, and your sanity. [Also, Huggies company, feel free to pay in diapers for this unsolicited endorsement!]).

Look, we’ve tried them all. Every variation of protective baby-bottom wear that you can imagine. We’ve done all the major and minor manufacturers. We’ve tried reusable and all-natural. And by the end of it all, only the Little Snugglers worked consistently at keeping the floodgates at bay and secured within the fluffy, absorbent folds of the package. In other words, they’re not as prone to leaking out everywhere.

There are few things more frustrating than going to all the trouble of putting a diaper on a spastic baby just for that diaper to not do its job. Our first child was like trying change a tornado. She squirmed, rolled, and rotated throughout the entire process. Our second, now he is like a broncing, bucking bull. He kicks and flares like he’s playing in the World Cup. Changing a diaper is like performing a medical procedure on a patient without anesthesia. Like playing the game “Operation” but if you lose, instead of a red buzzer going off, you get poo everywhere. It’s like disarming a bomb rotating in three-dimensions that even after you think you’re safe, it can still go off again.

But the real reason why the Little Snugglers are my favorite? Because they’re the Winnie the Pooh brand. Winnie, his friends, some balloons and clouds, and other happy designs decorate the plump potty pockets. The pun possibilities are just too perfect. The wordplay is whimsical. The innuendo is ingenious. The snuggly suggestiveness is simply stupendous. A paradox of pint-sized people-pollution packets.

In case you missed it. Let me spell it out. There are pictures of Pooh Bear on the diapers which are meant to contain baby poo. Pooh on poo. I can’t help but giggle like an immature middle schooler. For Huggies to obtain the rights to print Pooh on their poo pouches has got to be one of the best investments a company has ever made. It’s just the best.

It’s also, potentially, very philosophical. Where does one Pooh start and the other poo end?

So, whenever life feels weighed down by excrement, don’t be an Eeyore, be a Pooh.

For those that are familiar with the story: I now want to play Pooh Sticks. For everyone else, I leave you to the Internet.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A. A. Milne (aka Winnie-the-Pooh)

The Harrowing Tale of the Horrible Hair

I have recently arrived at this terrifying realization. And no, it has nothing do with the new strain of coronavirus and how the world’s gone mad (or madder than usual I guess… maybe… actually it’s probably all about the same; the world’s always been nuts). No, no, this has to do with beloved anthropomorphized animal characters intended for children. Let me explain.

Our practically three-year-old highness loves to read, and one of her favorites is the Llama Llama Red Pajama series by Anna Dewdney. And look, don’t get me wrong, because they are genuinely great children’s books, and I would recommend them for any family.

But I noticed something, something rather quite disturbing to my constitution the other day (Note: I’m referring to the original books, not the cartoon). If you pay attention, you’ll notice that Llama Llama and Mama Llama both have an exorbitant amount of hair coming out of their ears. It’s like an exploding bouquet of spider legs. The quantity of fur and ear wax is nothing short of alarming. And I’m just thinking: why? What the what? Why in the world was this artistic decision made? At some point, the artist had to ponder this choice and land on the decision to illustrate the spindling threads protruding from the cute llama’s hearing orifices. It’s one of those things that once you see, you can never unsee. Now, every time I read one of these books, I’m constantly distracted by the frightening truth—unable to turn my gaze from the bushy ear brows.

It doesn’t end there either. There’s this other character, one of Llama Llama’s friends (by the way, what if we all had repeating, self-identifying names like Llama Llama? I’d be called, “Hey, you, Guy Guy!), and her name is Nelly Gnu. She’s an adorable little goat character, all except one very specific detail. She has such a prominently, well-groomed and conspicuous goatee that would make Colonel Sanders blush. The thickness of her facial hair makes me embarrassed to pass on my genetics to future generations. Again, I ask, “Why, just why?”

Sometimes, the world is a scary and confusing place. There are life questions too big for our small human minds to comprehend. Answers are elusive. As I muse on existence and my own mortality, I am haunted by the hair; oh, the hair. My only comfort and solace is the knowledge that in death the hair will finally stop growing (yeah, that whole “nails and hair continue to grow after you die” thing is totally a myth). Until then, I sleep with an eye open and a razor under my pillow.

At least the rhymes are catchy and educational.