I still remember the first time she got me. I was in the kitchen when I heard her voice cut through the air from our living room.
Five minutes to get rid of it.
Five minutes to get rid of it!
After a great deal of discussion and explanation that always ended with “five minutes to get rid of it”, I learned that I was unwittingly taking part in a game. It kicks in whenever someone says the word “what”. From there, they have five minutes to get someone else to do it or else, well, nothing. It’s one of the most annoying games on the planet.
And we play it all the time.
That’s just one of the many in-games we play within our family. Whether it’s getting rid of a “what” in five minutes or yelling jinx when you speak the same words at the same time as someone else, there are many unique quirks we’ve incorporated into our day-to-day moments. Some started earlier than others.
When Olivia was barely a toddler, I’d read her a story before bed each night. During those particular bedtimes where she was less than eager to tuck in, I’d threaten her with a story told by my alter-ego. Mr. Boring.
Adopting the voice of a Looney Tunes turtle, I’d begin a monotone tale that went the same way each time.
Once… (sigh) upon a time. There was…(deep breath) a princess.
She would hold her face and yell, “No! No Mr. Boring!” As she got older, Mr. Boring became a member of our family. He’s always ready to pounce when she’s at the brink of having a kiddie meltdown…just to push her over the edge from anger to hysterics. Most kids teeter on that level. From my experience, it’s the silly things we do in the face of an inevitable tantrum that push them over to the laughter side.
Not all of our games are built on bedtime story torture. There’s the dance-dipping game that was invented out of nowhere a few years back. That’s when I will sharply turn to Olivia and begin snapping my fingers in rhythm. Suddenly, I’m an extra from West Side Story, shuffling my feet on the ground with each harmonized snap. Knowing what’s coming, she will try to run, but once you hear the snaps and taps, it’s too late.
That’s when I grab her and dramatically dip her like a ballroom dancer so far back until she’s sure I’m about to drop her. She’ll cackle with laughter and, within minutes, will turn the tables with rhythmic snapping of her own. I’ve nearly thrown my back out more than once arching it while letting my half pint kid “dip” me.
We, like everyone else, are always looking to create new memories. That’s why we do things like Disney World Trips. However, it’s the insanity we create ourselves that always dominate the times spent reminiscing more than any direct Mousekateering. For instance, we waited on line to meet Tinkerbell for, what seemed like, a month. In the end:
Number of photos with Tinkerbell: 6
Number of photos acting ridiculous at the airport gate: 28
This isn’t an exaggeration. I just counted the pictures. That’s not to say that we didn’t have fun doing other things at Disney. It’s just that for as much as Olivia remembers the Tomorrowland Speedway ride, she remembers the time we spent in the sitting area afterwards just as much, if not more. That’s where she would break into a loud and exaggerated version of Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Lucas would laugh so hard his face turned red. It was hilarious. The photo count comparison on that one isn’t even close. From the space it occupies in my Disney Photo Folder, you’d think that the sitting area was a major attraction of Walt Disney World.
Because he’s non-verbal, Lucas and I may not play “five minutes to get rid of it” or some other family games. However, we have a slew of inside jokes with him too. When he was young, one of his in-home therapists suggested I count down from three before tickling him. It would help anticipate the tickle and teach him numbers in the process. To this day, I still count down from three in the craziest tone I can muster. He’s always laughing by two and covering up. Sometimes, he can drift off into his own world, but no matter how disinterested Lucas is in what I’m doing, I can usually bring him around with a crazy eyed one, two, three countdown.
Even taking his shoes off found itself turned into family insanity. Ever since he was tiny, whenever I removed one of his sneakers, I’d pretend to pull with all my might and make over-the-top struggling cries. Finally, after a few pulls, I let out a big sigh and collapse in defeat with my head falling right into his belly. He laughs like crazy and I do too. All for what? Shoe removal. It’s a throwaway moment of every day that has been turned into a moment we look forward to simply through silliness.
Of everything we do in our day to day lives, those are the times that are most important. Vacations, holidays, and special occasions are fantastic, but they’re just a setting. You’re the characters. It’s your interactions that truly make the story.
You have weddings dominated with tales of Uncle Maury juggling a loaf of bread or birthdays that are prefaced with, “That’s when we dared Brenda to balance the Snapple bottle on her nose.” Those are the highlights we remember and the moments that matter most. You don’t need to spend money to make them happen. You don’t even have to leave your house. They’re easy to make and impossible to forget.
One day, I’m sure Olivia will forget some of our trips to Sesame Place or Hershey Park. Heck, she probably already has. But there are certain things from those days she’ll never forget. One day when I’m older and grayer, I’ll ask her if she knows what those certain things are.
She’ll reply, “What?”
Then I’ll say, “Five minutes to get rid of it.”