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I'm thinking of annnnnnnnn animal! Mister Man excitedly shouts.
Hmmm, is it an animal that you might typically have as a pet? I ask.
Nope, definitely not a pet, he giggles.
Oooo, ooo, pick me, pick me! shouts Anthony (not his real name).
Go ahead, Anthony. It's your turn, I gently explain.
Is it extinct? he inquires.
YES! shouts Mister Man enthusiastically.
Is it a dinosaur, asks Sharon (not her real name).
Why, yes, it is a dinosaur, Mister Man nods.
Yay! I won. It's my turn now, bounces Sharon.
No, you need to figure out what kind of dinosaur it is, Mister Man corrects.
Ummm, is it a carnivore? I attempt weakly, knowing this game suddenly got harder.
Yes! It's a carnivore, Mommy! Mister Man proudly declares.
Is it a T-Rex? asks Anthony.
Is it an allosaurus? asks Violet (still not her real name).
I give up. I don't know dinosaurs, pouts Sharon.
Nope, it's not an allosaurus, grins Mister Man.
Is it... a velociraptor? I venture.
No, Mom. It's not from the Jurassic Period. It lived in the Cretaceous Period, Mister Man grinds out (ok, so my accuracy might be getting a bit off here - I can't keep track of the details of dinosaurs - sadly, my eyes still glaze over a little bit after too much detail).
Is it an Argentinosaurus? asks Violet.
No. You're in the wrong period. Mom was closest, Mister Man replies.
Is it an eoraptor? I'm digging for any dinosaur I can think of now.
No, Mom. You have the wrong period again, his impatience is growing (as is that of the rest of us in the car).
Is it a pteronodon? asks Anthony.
That isn't even a dinosaur! complains Mister Man. No actual dinosaurs ever flew. They just lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.
The game continued on, and eventually we all gave up, with Mister Man announcing a dinosaur he insists I've heard of but that I can't name for the life of me now. He chose Violet to have the next turn, and luckily she chose a rainbow, which was far easier to guess.
As I'm driving carpool four mornings of five, I have five children in my car from kindergarten to second grade - with more personalities amongst them than you can shake a stick at. They all have their different likes and disllikes and preferences for what they want to do.
To keep the peace in the car, I somehow stumbled on playing Twenty Questions instead of arguing over whether we would listen to Radio Disney, Kids Place Live, or Cinemagic on the way to school. I'm pretty sure it came from me picking a letter in the alphabet to see who would get to choose the next song on the radio.
Every day now, we play Twenty Questions. Anthony almost always picks a sports team (fortunately I can rattle off just about all the teams from the NFL, MLB and NHL). Sharon likes to choose people who are generally teachers or relatives. Little Miss goes for fish, and Violet chooses things. Mister Man, of course, always has a different dinosaur. Having played often enough now, it makes it easier for me to narrow down the mysterious item, and it's a joy to watch the five children all working together to play a game where they all know the rules and have to respect each other to earn a turn.
I think about the bus Little Miss used to ride to preschool where she was the only child on the bus not immersed in a handheld video game of some sort. I see the families out for a nice dinner together where the children never interact with anyone or anything - including the wait staff - other than their video games.
And you know what? I feel sorta sorry for them. The wee ones never complain about being bored, and it's hilarious to watch the games they come up with for themselves. Give them a pen and paper or three pieces of Lego or anything really, and they can turn it into something amazing - which usually draws me into the game, too, as I find it fascinating what they create and how they use their imaginations. I hope that this serves them well in later years, as I know the day will come when their phones or computers or video games will enter their lives and we won't have our fun little games.
That day is a ways off, and in the meantime I'm enjoying the time I have with the wee ones. I love coming up with off the wall games from finding every word we can think of that starts with a certain letter to seeing how many steps it takes us to walk around the dining room table - forwards and backwards.
And by the way, I can get around my table in eleven steps now. It used to take me fourteen.
This post was inspired by the book Room by Emma Donoghue that was this month's selection for my Left to Write book club where we read a book but don't review it - instead we write a post inspired by something in the book. I received a copy of this book, but there is no compensation, and all opinions are my own. As a side note, I'm sorry, but no, I would not recommend this book. I haven't slept through the night in the six nights since I finished it. It's not my kind of book.