Where does imagination go? What happens to the brain's ability to come up with fantastical stories of monsters, talking cars, brave knights and animals that ride on clouds and circle the sun? When do we stop imagining our Cabbage Patch Kids are rescuing each other from an Evil Orphanage Lady or that our GI Joes are marooned on a desert island, their only shelter a Millenium Falcon that has holes blown in it from our older brother's fire crackers?
Why am I having the hardest time engaging in Rollie's new favorite game of making his plastic Lightning McQueen and Mater have breakfast together?
Seriously. I feel like every time he approaches me, cars in hand, and starts pleading with me to play with him, I want to beat myself over the head with a plastic Piston Cup. It's gotten to the point where the instant he does something naughty, instead of banishing him into to Time Out, I simply take McQueen and Mater and put them on top of the fridge. And hope he forgets them for days. I take great pleasure in removing these toys from his possession. I almost have to squelch the malevolent, Phyllis Diller laughter echoing in my head as I do it.
Why? Why don't I indulge him for ten minutes? Why do I feel like I'm suffering a slow, horrible death, bored out of my mind as he sits there on the carpet, Mater and McQueen facing each other and pretending to eat breakfast? Why would I rather watch a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon than come up with some dialogue for Mater and deliver it in my best Larry The Cable Guy voice?
The other day I said, "Rollie, I will play any other game in the entire galaxy with you except...except Breakfast at Jiffy Lube."
"But Momma, I really want to play with Lightning and Mater. Puh-leeeeease?"
"I'm serious. I will play ANYTHING else. Anything at all that you want to play, I will play."
"But why don't you want to play this?"
"Because, Rollie, it bores me to tears."
"Why does it bore you to tears?"
"Because all you do is sit there while I carry on a one-sided conversation with Mater. You never make Lightning talk. I do all the talking."
"Why don't you ever make Lightning say anything?"
"Because he's resting for his big race."
"Well, be that as it may, I still would rather play anything else with you, so think of something else to play."
"No! I Don't Want To!"
"Rollie, don't be naughty or I'll just take Lightning and Mater away."
He piped down, thought for a minute, then said, "Want to play tag?"
Really, Rollie? Tag? Playing tag falls somewhere just below scouring the toilets on my list of unappealing ways to spend my afternoon. And yet, here again is my dilemma. I used to LOVE tag. Holy crap, 25 years ago ask me if I'd rather play tag for an hour or have a lifetime supply of Fruit Roll-ups and you'd better believe I'd pick tag (offer me a lifetime supply of Devil Dogs, on the other hand, and I might be singing a different tune). What happened? Why don't I want to play a game that used to give me more joy than a sugary rawhide of fruit? Mention tag to me now and immediately I feel my heart sink like I just realized I'd been walking around all day with a broccoli spear lodged in my teeth. I simply do not get it.
"How about something else?" I asked.
"No, tag! Let's play tag, Momma!"
"How about Hide and Seek?"
Rollie's response was to run up to me, smack me on the leg and say, "You're it!" before tearing across the house, giggling all the way.
I shuffled after him, deciding that I'd better participate for a little while, lest I want to take home the trophy for Worst Playmate of the Year.
Still, this whole idea that I am no longer fun is nagging my mind. I mean, when was the last time I truly threw my whole self into a game Rollie wanted to play, without checking my emails on my iPhone or mentally running through the list of things I needed to get done that day, what to make for dinner, or what I should write for my next blog?
As I sit and type this out, I can hear Rollie playing in his room. By himself. His Lightning McQueen and Mater toys are looking at me from on top of the fridge. I think I will bring them to him, sit down on the floor with him and play a little Breakfast at Jiffy Lube. And I'll leave my iPhone here, beside the computer. I promise. I'm going to win the title of Playmate of the Year if it kills me....