My kids are nothing if not creative.
Take the Underpants Game, for example.
This game was invented last week after bath time. Jeff was still out of town, and I had shifted from I-Can-Do-This Mode to Holy-Crap-If-Jeff-Doesn't-Come-Home-In-The-Next-Twelve-Hours-I-Am-Going-To-Stew-My-Children-In-My-Hamilton-Beach-Crock-Pot, Serve-Them-Over-Some-Rice-And-Smother-Them-In-Shredded-Cheese Mode. With-Some-Apple-Pie-A-La-Mode. Mode.
So I instructed them to march down the hall, wrapped in their respective towels, all clean-haired and dewy-skinned, and get themselves into their respective jammies. And thinking my children can follow instructions as obediently as a well-trained German Shepard, I headed for the laundry room for some therapeutic folding. And then the chuckles began.
Isn't it funny how the beautiful and precious sound of your baby laughing eventually morphs into a sort of disturbing, ominous chuckle? The kind of chuckle that doesn't say, I'm having innocent fun and learning about object permanence. It says, I'm wearing a shit-eating grin and up to absolutely no good because mommy is preoccupied cleaning up a mess that most likely I made, and so for a few minutes I can get away with something unthinkably rotten and therefore a total hoot.
Me: Guys? I hope you're putting on your pajamas like I asked....
Instead of a reassuring chorus of We are, I hear silence. And then more chuckles.
Me: What are you doing?
Me: Why do I not believe that? You're laughing an awful lot to be doing nothing.
I cross the hall and find my children jay-bird naked.
Me: What's going on, guys? Why aren't you dressed?
Rollie (pointing up and looking rather proud of himself): Look!
There, hanging like a pair of deployed parachutes from the model P-51 "Cadillac Of The Sky" airplane suspended from his ceiling were Star Wars and Dora underpants.
Elsa: Can you get them down for us?
Me: How did they get up there?
Elsa: Rol Rol threw them.
Me: You guys are supposed to be putting them on, not throwing them around the room.
Rollie: But I'm trying to get them onto my airplane.
Me: You can't get them down once they're up though.
Rollie: You can get them down.
Me: I don't really want to be your underwear retriever.
Elsa: Underwear Retriever! Hahahaha!
Rollie: I'll get them down with Mr. Yardstick.
Me: Rollie, please don't.
Rollie: But it's fun!
Me: It looks like a total blast (I mean, come on...who wouldn't want to throw his or her undies around the room instead of putting them on? It's their own version of Animal House.), but that's not what you're supposed to be doing. Now please get your jammies on.
They obliged, and I left. And the laughing continued. Which, now that I thought about it, was actually pretty funny. I mean, they were just so...amused by this game. In my children's mind, throwing their underwear around the room was delightfully absurd. Here is a garment that is worn beneath clothes, hidden from view. Underwear is private. Something other people just aren't supposed to see. And there they were, tossing it in the air like cotton confetti, laughing like little lunatics. And who were they hurting, really? They weren't making a mess. They weren't fighting. They were trying to smuggle candy from the pantry or draw on the walls or take turns spitting water into the toilet. For a change.
The Underpants Game would have been relatively innocuous were it something my two children played by themselves. But it was apparently so much fun that my darling angels decided it was too good not to share. The next day a few of their little friends came over to play. And as the other moms and I hung out in the kitchen, the kids disappeared into Rollie's room, where almost instantly laughter of the shit-eating variety erupted.
One of the little girls emerged, the look on her face one of hilarious disbelief.
Girl: Rollie's throwing his underwear around.
My Friend: He's doing what?
Me: It's a game they made up. (And even as I try to explain, I feel like anything I say will only make it worse. It's like trying to explain away why your son has, say, a human head hanging next to his winter coats in his room: "Oh, that's my Jimmy. Never know what you're gonna find in his closet! Ha ha ha.")
I peeked into his room to admonish, and almost got hit in the face by a pair of flying underpants.
Me: Rollie, no more.
Rollie: But look, Momma. (He proceeds to throw a pair of Spiderman undies up, where the ceiling fan bats them onto his top bunk).
Me: Rollie. Play something else.
And then a few days later, we were at another friend's house. A friend who has two charming, well-behaved girls (one of whom Rollie's paramour), which means she has never had the delight of glancing out her window to see her first-born aiming his penis in the air mid-pee so he can determine just how high of a trajectory he can reach with his urine stream.
Her house has plenty of toys that even a 5-year-old boy can appreciate. And silly, unsuspecting little me figured that he would do what he always does when he's at someone else's house: Sit quietly in the other room and play a board game, following the rules, taking turns and being polite as a sweet old lady. Wait...he never does that.
So imagine my surprise when my friend's daughter emerged and said:
"Rollie's playing with my underwear."
My Friend: ...What?
Me (again, feeling like I'm explaining his tendency to skin alive bunny rabbits): Not the underwear she has on....It's a new game he and Elsa made up.
Rollie appeared, a balled up pair of undies in his hand like he was in the middle of some slumber party prank.
Me: Rollie. We don't play with our friend's underwear. (That's a new one.)
Rollie: But it's funny.
Me: Go put those away and play something else.
Rollie: But they think it's funny.
Me: ROLLIE. No more underwear game.
Rollie looked at his friend and they both ran from the room, laughing all the way.
So at least they were getting along and having fun. Even if it was at something that in a few years will be really inappropriate. And in a few more years downright creepy. I would tell him to enjoy the Underpants Game while he can, but I don't want to encourage him....