Before every checkup at the pediatrician, I get a checklist of developmental milestones I can mark whether Edith has hit or not. (And before I hear from moms, the office is very clear that these are just generally to know where the baby is, she doesn’t need to hit these and so on.) At her nine month appointment, one of the milestones was “participates in at least one nursery game (such as pat-a-cake, hide-and-seek, etc.).”
“Oh no!” I thought. “I’m supposed to be playing nursery games with her! We do not do nursery games! What if she never plays nursery games??”
Well, one month later, and I am very, very sick of nursery games!
We still do not play pat-a-cake, but there are a number of nursery games that we absolutely wear out. By “nursery game” I mean an activity where I am being actively invited to play, where my participation is key to the game. By contrast, we also have quite a lot of repetitive routines wherein Edith is trying to do something and I am trying to stop her from doing it, but I don’t count these as games, because even though they have a similar predictable pattern to them, one of us would prefer the other one not be initiating the activity, and the other would prefer that the first one just butt the hell out.
All that said, here are our current games:
- Put a toy in Mom’s mouth. This was Edith’s first game, and it’s still a classic. She LOVES it. She take her most disgusting, stickiest toy, and sticks it into my mouth, and giggles like mad while I shake it back and forth like it’s fresh kill. At some point, I either spit it at her, or she takes it back, and then she immediately puts it back in my mouth again, grinning in anticipation. Repeat one thousand times.
- Where’s Edith? This is classic peek-a-boo, basically. Strangely, Edith introduced this game herself when I was drying her off after her bath. She pulled the towel over her face and sort of froze up, and I just somehow knew what was expected of me. Something elemental in me cried, “Where’s Edith? Oh, no, where has my baby gone!” and then she threw the towel off her face grandly and I squealed “THERE SHE IS” and now we do this one hundred million times per day, after the bath, behind every piece of furniture, behind my knees when I’m lying on the floor, in the car seat, everywhere. The cutest thing about this game is that Edith doesn’t always get the hiding part — like after her bath, sometimes she hides under the towel but other times she just sort of clenches her hands and freezes, eyes wide in anticipation.
- Couch laps. I have a super long couch and Edith loves to be lifted up onto it so that she can crawl recklessly back and forth as fast as she can possibly go. She even does little kick flips at the ends like a swimmer. But she doesn’t yet understand about falling off things onto hardwood floors, so I have to jog alongside her to block her with my body from falling. Edith thinks I am participating and she tries to fake me out by changing direction rapidly and unexpectedly. This is my least favorite nursery game and we play it about one million times per week.
- Only child. In this game, Edith bangs a couple of wooden toys together, and I pick up two more and bang them, at which point, she abruptly drops hers and grabs mine. “Oh, you’re doing those? Ok, I’ll take these,” I say and pick up the ones she just dropped. Then, she immediately drops hers and grabs mine. “Oh, ok, you take those, I’ll take these.” After repeating this 20 times or so, she starts to drop hers behind her back before taking mine, and then each time she makes hers gradually more difficult for me to pick them up. We play this conservatively 40 times per morning.
I’m glad she’s having fun.