Anyone else utterly amazed at the court jester-like activities we’re willing to engage in to educate/entertain our children?

Anyone else half expect a hidden camera crew to jump out when you’re singing a completely original number about the potty, or how cool it is to obey? Someone reflected to me this weekend how motherhood makes poop no longer a topic of taboo. So true … Funny how the whole pregnancy process itself gets us ready to bare all, suffer all, and do it in the name of love.

So I will invite you into Janel’s little world of creative craziness. Actually, only preschoolers and possibly their mothers feel comfortable there. You read all these articles about the wonder of music for kids’ brains, you see how it works to help them remember things and laugh and actually do what you ask them to, and you start morphing your personality with, say, The Backyardigans. Suddenly song or rhyme bursts forth. You make up songs about your kids with their very own name and how much God/you love them, about where you’re going grocery shopping, and manners.

I have developed new games that my kids love to play and actually teach them character. I love it.

1) The Thankfulness Game. Rules: Take turns finishing the sentence, “I’m thankful for …” That’s it. Everybody wants a turn, and we play as long as they’re interested. My 2-year-old always has the same first answer (“GRANDMA!”), so at least we have someone to get the ball rolling. My kids actually ask to play this a lot!

2) The Encouragement Game. Rules: Every person picks someone in the room and says something you really like about them, or something great they do/have done. The 2-year-old, who drops everything for food: “Mommy, you’re a good cooker!”

3) The Things We Like About God Game. Rules: Well, yeah. We take turns saying things we like about God.

4) Say It in Rhythm. Agreeably not really a game, but if I think of a verse that has to do with a current conflict, I try to teach it with a little ditty or setting it to natural rhythm. Yes, I am a musical person, but there are a lot of verses put to song out there: Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Heart CDs and Max Lucado’s Hermie Scripture Memory CDs.

4) As for less spiritual games but great imagination games/time killers, try “Wouldn’t it be silly if …?” or “If I were a (fruit/animal/cartoon character/different person/piece of furniture/whatever) for a day, I’d be …”

5) “I wonder if Heaven will have …” Great conversation starter.

6) Let’s call them! I am trying to teach the kiddos phone skills and how to ask people questions about themselves (as opposed to my children only being aware of themselves!) so if they mention a relative, if it’s a good time, we try to call them and tell them we were thinking of them, etc.

Okay, I broke the ice—silliness/creative character ideas welcome.