It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I just work here

caution“FAAAAATTY-CAT!!” Timmy aims a two-handed shove at the substantially larger Nigel, and manages to set him back a pace. They grin gleefully at each other.

“FAAAAATTY-CAT” Nigel charges at Timmy, back arched, and they slam into each other, belly to belly. They both shriek with delight upon impact, staggering like a pair of miniature drunks around the living room.

“FAAAAATTY-CAT!!!” Nigel waits, tense with thrilled anticipation, for Timmy to take another almighty shove at him. They careen into a couch.

“Mary, we’re playing ‘fatty-cat’!!!” Timmy hollers at me.

Evidently. I have no idea what “fatty-cat!” means. Neither do they. (“Wherever did that come from?”, asked a bemused parent later that day. Only the depths of their imaginations, I’m sure, and the fact that “fatty-cat” is a collection of sounds that bounce nicely off the tongue, perfectly suited to a game where you bounce off your friend. Things don’t have to “come” from anywhere. A three- and a four-year-old are perfectly capable of making stuff up!)

(And who but a three or four-year-old could make this one up?)

I scan the room, assessing risk. The only sharp edges accessible to the kids are those of the brick fireplace. I shove a (soft, upholstered) chair in front of it. The worst that’s going to happen now is that they’ll fall over. I let them have at it.

“FAAATTY-CAT!!!!!!”

Attracted by the uproar, the girls join in. Within 90 seconds, Anna is in tears.

“He pushed me, Mary! He pushed me and I fell dooooown!”

“Well, that’s the game, lovie. If you don’t want him to push you, don’t play the game. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. But if you decide to play, you’re going to get shoved.”

Well, that settles that. Anna trots off to the kitchen.

“FAAAAATTY-CAT!!!!”

Twenty-three more seconds, and Emily approaches, wailing.

“I fell down and hurted myself!”

“I see that. You landed with a bump on your bum. But you know what? That’s what kind of game it is. If you want to play that game, you’re probably going to get bumped. If you don’t want to get bumped, you don’t have to play. But if you want to play, you can’t complain about a bump.”

“I want to play.”

“Okay, then, but no complaining about a little bump.”

“Okay.”

“FAAATTY-CAT!” Emily belly-bumps Timmy right onto his butt.
“FAAATTY-CAT!” Timmy hip-checks Nigel.
“FAAATTY-CAT!” Nigel shoves Emily who dominoes into Timmy. They cling to each other, teetering, and land in a heap.

And Emily laughs into Timmy’s gleeful face.

It’s a seriously weird game, but they’re having fun. And learning to assess a small risk while they’re at it. (In case you’re wondering, Babies Noah and Tyler stayed with me. Gravity alone is enough of a challenge to their powers to remain upright just yet.)

I figure the Big Kids can play fatty-cat for another 4.3 minutes until I just can’t stand it any longer. Not the risk. Not the falling down. Not the crashing to the floor. Goodness, it’s only a bump or two at issue. No, no, it’s the NOISE. My LORD, the NOISE!

914993_caution_excessive_sound_levels_

Because, worthy as it is to let them evaluate and experience risk, the risk to my sanity is even more real and immediate.

FAAAAATTY-CAT!!!!!!

Four point two minutes…

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March 13, 2009 - Posted by | Anna, Emily, health and safety, Nigel, Timmy | , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. What a very interesting, lively, exciting and NOISY life you lead. I might have last 3 minutes…tops! 🙂

    Comment by Zayna | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. “Fatty Cat” is mentioned in a book we have, “No Jumping On The Bed” but isn’t major and involves no slamdancing. I can completely see my boys enjoying this game. Until one of them got hurt.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  3. My kids like to cover their heads and bodies with a blanket and run around the room with their arms out trying to find their siblings and be the “Hug Monster.” This has resulted in NUMEROUS bumps, bruises, and tears…but for whatever reason, they never seem to remember previous injury when the game starts.LOL

    Comment by Coley Moley!!! | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  4. Isn’t it amazing the VOLUME that toddlers have. Every day as we drive home Jeffrey pretends to be a tiger (or a crane -depends on the day).
    And every day, we have a discussion where I explain that Mama may need to pull over and give a time out if the tiger in the backseat cannot be a quiet jungle creature. When he’s the crane, he is specifically either a quiet crane (my favorite) or a a loud crane. It really is sweet and imaginative and downright adorable. Of course, it may also be causing hearing loss.

    Comment by Dani | March 14, 2009 | Reply


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